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On Opinion: Court’s ruling is civil rights assault


Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Clarence Thomas deserves scorn. From his financial ties to Monsanto to his wifes professional lobbying career to Anita Hill, the man has sold out his race, his judicial robes and his country.
And don't let me get started on Scalia. Openly mocking Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't win him any gold stars.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

All the Court did was recognize that 2013 is not 1965. It did much the same in 1954 (Brown) when it ruled that it was no longer 1896 (Plessy).

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

That's true.

But, Pitts may be quite right when he says that the progress has been, at least partly, due to the VRA. I like Ginsburg's comment a lot.

We'll see, but I imagine that states freed from the VRA will immediately begin implementing things that make it harder for minorities to participate in the political process.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Why do you imagine states will make it more difficult for minorities to vote, especially when we all vote in disappointingly low numbers? How will we even differentiate what the states are doing from what we're choosing to do?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Because that's why those states were subject to the VRA in the first place.

And, there are those in the political arena who will use whatever tactics they can to win.

As far as differentiating, that may be difficult. But, there are some tactics that are clearly designed to limit minority participation.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

After Brown, were there attempts to implement separate but equal? Were those attempts made by the state or were they self implemented?

Yes, I'd argue that separation did happen after Brown, but I'd argue much of it happened by choice. I'd argue further that voting rates are miserable and they are miserable because we choose to make them miserable. The states in question, and the states not in question, need do nothing to keep voting rates low. We're doing that all on our own.

BTW - Right here in Lawrence, what was the voting rate in the last local election? The last state or national elections? Did minorities vote at rates lower than whites? If so, does Lawrence need to be included in a voting rights act of our own? Or are we just part of a self imposed system that produces low rates? Or will some crockpot claim that the potholes in East Lawrence prevented minorities from voting?

Time to move on.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Voting rates are miserable, I agree with you. But, they're miserable for a number of reasons.

And, there's a difference between voting rates in general and minority participation. If you want to believe that there aren't those in the political arena who want to make it harder for groups that generally vote for their opponents, I guess you can, but that seems rather odd to me.

There are great difficulties in determining whether or not discrimination is occurring, and measuring outcomes isn't the best way to decide that. But it's one of the only ways we have to try to determine that.

What does your last statement refer to? Time to move on from what exactly? The time to move on from attempts to ensure equality? Why? Why shouldn't we be involved in ongoing attempts to ensure that, and also to maintain it if we get there?

See fiddleback's chart below - it's very interesting.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Time to move on from the assumption that certain behaviors, certain actions, etc. are based on race. That may have been true in 1965, however, there may be very different reasons today.

Let me give you an example. Look at President Obama's two Supreme Court nominees. Both women, one Latina, one a member of a religious minority. No white men. Does that mean Obama is discriminating against white men, or are there other reasonable explanations? I choose to believe the latter. Why do minorities vote in lower numbers? Is it people trying to prevent them from voting, as was true in 1965, or are there other, reasonable answers today? Again, I'll choose the latter. Time to move on from the racism assumption.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Again, you can believe whatever you like.

Did you look at fiddleback's chart?

Unfortunately, racism is alive and well in this country today - just look at some of the comments on news stories on other sites - on my home page, I sometimes look at them, and am just astonished and discouraged.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

So a black guy drives down the road in an old clunker, spewing out smoke, with an expired tag. He's pulled over and claims to be the victim of racial profiling. He files charges, makes claims, winds up on some chart somewhere.

Yes, there are charts. Yes, profiling happens. Then again, sometimes guys get the very ticket they deserve to get. He may well believe with all his heart he was a victim of profiling. The police may swear upside and down he was just reacting to the situation at hand.

Did we need a voting rights act in 1965? Sure. Do we need one now? Probably not.

Did we need an occupying army in the South after the Civil War? Sure. Do we need one now? Despite it's history, the answer is an emphatic no.

Time to move on. Or as you like to say, you can believe whatever you want, no matter how wrong it is. :-)

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

Texas. And Florida. And any Republican-controlled state that has sizable black and Latino populations. Tell me of one Democrat-controlled state that has comparable gerrymandering and voting rights violations and restrictions. It's Republicans who see long voting lines, election after election, but cannot provide sufficient voting precincts and voting machines to eliminate those lines. It is always Republicans. Why is that, if not intentional suppression of votes?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

You only see what you want to see. I've seen Democrats gerrymandering districts in some pretty unique ways, forming some interesting shapes and sizes. I've seen two minority neighborhoods connected for many miles by nothing more that a highway, making one district with a minority majority, ensuring minority representation.

Of course, their rationale was pleasing to you, so you accept it's just and fair reasoning. But that doesn't mean both parties aren't doing it and they're doing it to suit their own political purposes.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

No, I don't approve of any gerrymandering. Have you seen Democrats limit voting machines in Republican precincts? Have you seen Democrats misdirecting Republican voters as to how they are to register or where they are to vote? Have you seen Democrats insisting that Americans who move to Kansas from any other state must present their birth certificate to prove they are Americans before they can cast a registered vote? Me neither.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

I have seen multiple examples of misbehavior on the part of Democrats as well as Republicans. In part, that explains why I claim neither as the party I prefer. Perhaps if you also took a step back and looked without a partisan eye, you would see without a partisan eye.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

I have been alive and voting for a long, long, time, sir, and I have never seen election abuses to equal those of Republicans in this last decade or more (not since the '60s, actually, which was when I started voting and paying close attention to politics and elections). What you label my partisan eye is, quite simply, judgment based upon both observation and experience. Maybe you should take a step back and try that.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

At least we've found something in common, as I've been voting just as long as you. During my journey throughout this country, I've lived in places where a Republican couldn't get elected as dogcatcher. I've lived in places where the same is true for Democrats. The malfeasance I've witnessed is disturbing, to say the least.

Let me just tell you a story from right here in Lawrence, 1976, where Democrat conspired to deprive representation of other Democrats. (I was one, back then). Anyway, this state had caucuses back then and I attended for the whole day, at the National Guard armory. Maybe you were there as well. Jimmy Carter was running, as was Udall, Jerry Brown, others. Carter had already seized the lead nationally, though he was seen as a more moderate candidate than the others.

When we broke up into groups, so that each could get proportional representation at the state level, the Udall forces (my preference at the time), conspired with the Brown forces to deny Carter his share of the delegates. Carter's group was larger than either of the other groups, but smaller than their combined size. With a wink and a nod, we planted supporters into the Carter group and then voted for them, sending covert Udall and Brown supporters to the state convention, disguised as Carter supporters.

The only Republican I've ever voted for was Bob Bennett, when he ran against Vern Miller. I've voted for Democrats on occasion, most recently I voted a straight party line last year, with the exception of the Presidency, which I again voted third party. I voted that straight party line not because I thought each and every one was better than their opponent, but because the Republicans have gone a bit nuts here in Kansas. Believe me or not, but Democrats have gone equally crazy in California and especially in San Francisco. Insanity, malfeasance, treachery, are qualities both political parties possess and in relatively equal proportions.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

It may also be that this decision forces a re-drawing of where the act should apply; that may or may not be a good thing.

mom_of_three 4 years, 11 months ago

No, I don't think he wants special treatment dictated by color. He wants the court to recognize that the VRA is responsible for the high voting rates and that it was successful.
It seems that the court just assumed that racists and scumbags went away.

mom_of_three 4 years, 11 months ago

Why are you assuming that the VRA is no longer needed??? And it isn't special treatment... it wasn't special treatment when it was enacted and it isn't special treatment now.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

Everyone is not equal as long as voting districts are gerrymandered and minority voters encounter barriers - such as inadequate precincts and voting machines or BS voting ID requirements as in Kansas - that are done entirely to suppress votes and the effectiveness of those votes. Don't pretend you don't see election abuses. Just why was Douglas County going to be placed in District 1?

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't assume that blacks can't vote without special treatment. I am saying that, as long as elections are controlled by political party officials, as in Kansas, all Americans need Federal DOJ muscle to ensure we each - regardless of race, gender, or party affiliation - have equal voting access and protection. I am saying that states such as Florida and Texas (and soon Mississippi and the like) are ALREADY abusive of minorities' voting rights, and that they are going to be much, much, worse without the VRA protections that the corporate rights Supreme Court justices have stripped away. Shameful and disgraceful.

Maddy Griffin 4 years, 11 months ago

Special treatment by color is okay as long as "white " is the color getting special treatment though?

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

While there's obviously a place for the emotional indignance offered by Pitts, what I find far more cogent is the data showing that section 5 has hardly outlived its purpose, being invoked 74 times by the DOJ to prevent new and unjust voter requirements since 2000.

For those who prefer more light than heat, here's a more detailed analysis illustrating the practical success and necessity of this provision: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/02/15/the-strong-case-for-keeping-section-5/

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

"Culture"? I'm not sure you really grasp this subject...No, This is not about "special treatment" of voters based on race. This is about jurisdictions with a history of attempting to implement unconstitutional voting requirements. Try reading the article I linked to:

"five-sixths or more of the cases of proven election discrimination from 1957 through 2013 have taken place in jurisdictions subject to Section 5 oversight."

The court wants to suggest that such geographic profiling was justified during the civil rights era, but not now. That's absurdly subjective -- it's either constitutional or it isn't.

What's undeniable is that it served us well.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

Pitts is not a race baiter. That is what they called us in the sixties for "inciting" the African Americans. We thought they were equal to whites, had the right to go to college, and vote. The culture of white superiority was deadening and horrible, and yet those who tried to help were told that the blacks in the southern states were very happy with their lives and had no idea anything was wrong until race baiting whites came down from the north and told them. Didn't think so then, and don't think so now.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Should we go back and identify the progeny of those who fought for the Confederacy and limit their ability to hold public office by vetting them through some federal process? Just when do we move on to current problems and let older ones pass?

And if you are going to respond do so with hard government data that demonstrates that the problem addressed by the portion of the act that was found unconstitutional is still with us. That is what the court ruled.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, I can't see how your rhetorical question is in any way analogous to this issue, or anything for that matter. The problem very much still exists; onerous and/or discriminatory voting requirements were blocked 74 times in the last 13 years (almost all in the original Section 5 states/jurisdictions). Your analogy's suggestion that section 5 is some overweeningly punitive measure based on ancient history frankly borders on offensive.

And if you were serious about wanting "hard data," you could already have looked at the cases on the Department of Justice site: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/sec_5/obj_activ.php. Or you could have looked at the link I posted further above summarizing the history of these section 5 interventions.

Again, the majority opinion deemed section 5 to be justified/constitutional during the civil rights era, but not now, an absurd waffling. It's either constitutional or it isn't, and their grounding the decision in supposed social progress is as facile as it gets. The only argument for striking it down with any integrity is that it is unconstitutional, period, and never should have been instituted in the first place.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

In your word just exactly what did the court rule? My interpretation suggests they did not declare the underlying problem (racism) solved. IMHO they simply said that to continue to insert federal power into state's on voting rights a new formula needs to exist consistent with current reality not forty year old data.

My analogy is exactly what you wrote and you offend me in arguing past history (40 years) should continue to drive government action. Just do what the court suggested and show that the racism you deplore (as do I) still exists in the format addressed by the law (voting rights)

Using federal action that determines that intervention is required to among other things try to create minority majority districts hardly supports the existence of systemic government sanctioned voting rights violations.

Further, IMHO if we are really so worried about underlying voting rights we might look at other states where the statistics suggest that a potential problem might exist.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

False dichotomy -- of course they didn't declare racism solved. Yes, Roberts said the country had changed (i.e. social progress), and that a new formula was needed.

The problem is how well the old formula worked, so well that we could scarcely expect to improve upon it. Again, if you would just read the article I've linked to, you'd see plenty of data and learn facts like this:

"five-sixths or more of the cases of proven election discrimination from 1957 through 2013 have taken place in jurisdictions subject to Section 5 oversight ‑ which would mean very skillful targeting for any government program."

You ask that I "show that the racism you deplore (as do I) still exists in the format addressed by the law (voting rights)" Again, look at the DoJ site. These are hardly just cases about creating majority minority districts. Sure, current measures are far less obvious than poll taxes or literacy tests, but that doesn't mean that more recent trends towards voter ID or other requirements don't disproportionately affect minority groups:



"Further, IMHO if we are really so worried about underlying voting rights we might look at other states where the statistics suggest that a potential problem might exist."

Yeah, we do look in other states-- it's called section 2, but again, 5/6 of those cases still ended up being from section 5 jurisdictions...

So your analogy was in earnest rather than a glib hyperbole, and you'd like to seriously suggest that 40 years might as well be 150. But it turns out that certain dynamics can still persist after 40 years. There are still plenty of people alive who voted for George Wallace's segregationist ticket in 1968; he took 5 southern states and came in a close second in 3 others: http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1968

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Guilt by association!

It was an analogy. Just how long must we pursue criminal activity with special and intrusive processes. I suggest that 40 years is enough in the absence of compelling data to the contrary.

I reject using Justice Department Data as you are because for me it is suspect. If you are in charge of finding racism and your job depended on it you will find it. I admit racism exists. I reject selective enforcement based in part on a relatively limited data set (74 cases) over 13 years in states with populations in the tens of millions.

Voter ID laws are a hot topic today. I see no issue with requiring proof of citizenship at initial registration and do not considerate it racist. Your argument suggests that minority youth are less capable of proving citizenship then white kids. Where is the racism in not being able to find a birth certificate? Maybe there is a bigger problem? I also note that states outside the selected cohort are also passing such laws and that the excesses in those laws are being identified by the courts (the normal process).

Racism today is much more sophisticated then when “Bull” Connor was practicing his trade. We need to move beyond chasing a declining and relatively small set of blatant issues and find better ways to deal with the current reality.

There is just no reason for a continued federal oversight under the old ground rules. Update the process and see if we can show a real problem that we can then address. There is no legitimate argument that 40 year old data given the legitimate progress made is deterministic today.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

So this sounds an awful lot like a bad faith demand on your part:

"And if you are going to respond do so with hard government data..."

"I reject using Justice Department Data"

Um, where else do you suggest that we find "hard government data"?

You appear determined to discard the most authoritative evidence available that the section 5 formula, while over 40 years old, is still justly applied to jurisdictions where 83% of the section 2 violations have occurred, offering a clear example of its enduring geographic accuracy. Yet the recent restrictions' evolution beyond ham-fisted white supremacy becomes your excuse to doubt and/or deny significant discriminatory impacts.

Since you like analogies, I'll borrow and expand on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's: you say that we should throw away the decades-old umbrella in places where 83% of the precipitation occurs because the rain has more often frozen into sleet and you're pretty sure we're not going to get very wet...you dismiss explanations of how the umbrella still works quite well or that sleet melts into water, thus I see no point in continuing to pretend that meaningful debate is possible.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

83% of a miniscule set.of violations. The institutional racism that was the basis for the original determination of a violation requiring nine states to be under special scrutiny is demonstrably gone. In many of the states so branded minorities hold a significant percentage of the elected positions and in some are actually a majority on the voter lists.

That there ares till problems (if any of the cases are really problems worthy of note) pales into insignificance. Your argument is silly. I guess we could apply the biblical test. If just ten violation occurs should that justify keeping a state under special scrutiny? How about one?

This whole argument is irrational. It is time to move on and we are. If any of the nine states re offends I suspect we will again apply a more stringent standard. Until then the burden of proof is on the complaints that 74 cases over 13 years represent unacceptable institutional racism.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

"83% of a miniscule set.of violations."

The 83% refers not to the 74 cases in the last 13 years, but to over 1200 cases. "Bad faith" was being too nice. Suggested for the fourth time, here is the article that you clearly still haven't read: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/02/15/the-strong-case-for-keeping-section-5/

And since you probably won't read it, I'll quote it:

"First, 90 percent of the 4,141 incidents and 93.4 percent of the 3,775 “successful” incidents – those that resulted in changes to election law that advanced minorities’ voting rights – took place in the jurisdictions covered by Section 5. This may not be surprising, since 2,368 of the incidents were Section 5 objections or enforcement actions, or “more information” requests. These, by definition, can take place only in covered jurisdictions. More instructive is the portion of the 1,256 successful Section 2 cases that arose in jurisdictions subject to oversight: 83.3 percent."

And you won't even look at the DoJ cases, so your repeated assertions of institutional racism being gone sound like nothing more than self-serving speculation. Those records offer plenty recent examples of discrimination that even you would recognize, but again, there's no use in my leading your sorry horse to water when it clearly won't drink...

I can see why it's easy for you to fancy yourself moderate when you clearly keep those scales as empty as possible...

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

I have been trying to avoid this argument because it is a no win and requires examination of the actual cases. You quote numbers without any specifics as to what the issue was and determine merit if a change was affected ( when the feds come after you it is not wise to fight unless you have very deep pockets.). Some cases I suspect would lead to general agreement that rights were violated.. For some we would find little agreement as they reflect my earlier voiced concern for minority majority districts and similar social meddling.

I bring this up because I remember the 64 corridor district in Virginia mandated by the feds to obtain a minority congressperson. There were no civil rights violation attached to it just the general notion that there should be proportional representation which would be unlikely given dispersed populations. This does not mean I support gerrymandering to avoid minority districts anymore than I support gerrymandering to achieve the election of a particular party. But under special scrutiny there was no need to prove intent. I resent that notion regardless of the issue.

You believe that whatever number we use necessitates further selective oversight. The court obviously did not. I distrust the numbers you provided and am not willing to spend the time to examine each case because 1. We would never agree 2. The court did that

I go back to my earlier comment. If you are a hammer everything looks like a nail. To me there are three questions

  1. How many of your list would be supported by the majority as a true violation or social meddling
  2. Of that set do these cases represent institutional racism or stupid people 3 In the absence of special oversight would the issues agreed upon have have been addressed anyway

Your numbers are overkill. I have acknowledged continued racism - although I believe that institution racism has declined.

The issue to me is whether there is sufficient justification to continue special scrutiny. Even accepting your numbers as valid examples of racism I do not believe they represent the scope of institutional racism that prompted the special scrutiny in the first place.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Now you threw a few rocks above because I refuse to let you define the problem the way you wish. I am increasingly unwilling to play that game. To me the issue is not the unconstitutionality of the law (it is constitutional). To me the issue is whether the underling concern for civil rights warrants the continued constitutional intrusion of the feds into state affairs. You argue the cases cited do. I argue that the macro-progress does not.

I find your rigid adherence to a dated system a bit puzzling (Unless I ascribe negative motives). If you and enough other people feel as you state than we should begin immediately to produce another section 5.

I know that in certain circles it is fun to bash the court but the issue is not as black and white as you portrait it. There is merit in the court position. That position does not deny further efforts to avoid institutional racism. It does require more thought.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

According to Scalia, not even WOMEN have constitutional protection against discrmination, much less racial minorities.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Could you please put that comment into context.

Orwell 4 years, 11 months ago

If the bigotry and anti-democracy actions are now more subtle than poll taxes and literacy tests they're no less reprehensible.

Mike Ford 4 years, 11 months ago

the voting rights act protected Chippewa-Cree and Lakota voting rights over the years where localities in South Dakota would gerrymander districts to have a White minority run a Lakota majority and in North Dakota and Montana districts would refuse to set up voting booths on the reservations inside the county borders knowing full well the majority voters of Turtle Mountain and Rocky Boy reservations were also Democrats. The last two acts of voter suppression occurred in the last three years so those of you who think this is a issue in the past are full of denial. The Snyder Act of 1924 afforded Native peoples the right to vote but New Mexico and Arizona suppressed this until the early 1950's even as veterans returned from war. keep defending the bigotry and guess what you'll be viewed as......

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

What happened in North Dakota and Montana??

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

OK. Neither state is covered under section 5 so what the SC did does not impact them. If the situation you described was resolved it was accomplished without section 5.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

I like fiddleback's comments on this - the SC isn't tasked with determining "reasonability" of laws, it's tasked with determining constitutionality.

If laws need to be changed, or have outlived their usefulness, that's a task for the legislature, not the judiciary.

The question would be if there's anything unconstitutional about the VRA - according to a law professor I heard on the radio, there's nothing in the constitution that mandates the federal government treat states the same way, so there would be nothing unconstitutional about the VRA. If true, the SC should have left it alone.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Of course the constitution grants most powers to the people and the STATES. When the feds insert themselves into state business there needs to be a good reason. But then this argument is what divides many of us. Your argument works for you and many others but not for me and many others

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

That's a different argument.

The question before the SC was the constitutionality of the VRA, not whether or not we "still need" it.

On what grounds do you think the VRA is unconstitutional?

And, I'd say that making sure that states don't deny fundamental rights to American citizens is a very good reason for the feds to get involved, perhaps the best reason, actually.

Either it's been unconstitutional all along, or it's been constitutional, and still is - the argument that it's unconstitutional because we don't "still need" it doesn't make sense. If we had a law about horse and buggies, and no longer had them, that wouldn't make the law unconstitutional, just unnecessary.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Actually you hit the nail on the head. It was constitutional as long as the states were not respecting civil rights. Once the states stopped their systemic criminal actions it was no longer constitutional as there was no longer a need - the normal processes could reassert themselves.

As to the sates substantially coming into compliance my argument is above. 74 cases out of god knows how many opportunities over 13 years is not a fire bell. It is as close to compliance as any state will ever come. There are always outliers and the normal criminal justice system can address them..

The founding fathers were very clear that they distrusted government and they devised one that was deliberately weak and divided. The constitution is clear that all powers not specifically enumerated to the feds belong to the rest of us. The argument that as times change we need to be more flexible is under cut by the fact that those fathers put in place a process to change the constitution to reflect the impact of time but they made that hard - deliberately - to insure their original intentions. No where did they suggest a slow evolution of the document.

I know you disagree and frankly there is no definitive arguments either way - other than original intent with which you disagree. So we just continue to argue but it does help to know what we are arguing about rather then throwing around terms like racist which belongs more in propaganda then in a reasoned discussion of high politics.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

You just re-state the argument without any support.

I'd say that the feds have the right to ensure that states aren't denying fundamental rights to citizens - do you disagree with that?

If not, what makes the VRA unconstitutional, since that's what it does?

The idea that it's no longer necessary may or may not be true (I tend to think it's not true), but if it's true, then the legislature can amend/repeal it, which would be the correct procedure here.

The powers not specifically granted to the feds "or prohibited to the states" are then granted to the states, or the people (which, by the way, is an odd phrase - exactly how is it determined whether the states or the people have certain rights?). But I disagree that they deliberately created a "weak" government. They granted a lot of power to the federal government as well as giving latitude to the states.

There are a lot of laws on the books that are no longer necessary - that doesn't make them unconstitutional.

I also disagree that 74 examples in 13 years isn't significant - that's 5-6 times each year that the federal government had to get involved to prevent discrimination in voting rights. Why would you think that's the closest to compliance a state could get? I think states can fully comply and never try to prevent citizens from voting.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Prove yours. I noted there is no definitive support for either argument. Constitutional scholars on both sides have argued this issue for generations. You and i will not solve it.

Well, thanks again for raising a good point. States are not people they are institutions composed of people. Mr. Brownback leads Kansas he is not Kansas. If he does illegal things his actions should be addressed within our normal system If the system fails then and only then do we get to go to more extreme remedies.

When Mr. Connor was doing his thing he had the full force of the laws of the state of Alabama behind him. That is why we needed Federal intervention (which oh by the way IMHO is not unconstitutional). It becomes unconstitutional when the purpose for which it occurred no longer substantially exists. The fact that some idiot in say Alabama gets carried away does not make the state non-compliant. It does make the idiot subject to corrective action which if not taken by Alabama may necessitate further federal involvement.

I find the "liberal" mind fascinating. The voting rights act substantially accomplished what was intended. We should celebrate. Instead we go looking for issues of lesser and lesser impact to chase. Perfection will never be attained!

I would also argue that we will never end racism or its twin bigotry. any more than we were able to produce the "New Man". It is built into our genes. The best we will probably do is minimize institutional occurrences. People will continue to harbor "bad" thoughts and occasional actions.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

The states have an obligation to in sure civil rights as do our local law givers. In our system the Feds only become involved when lower government actions are wanting or inconsistent.

The ultimate result of your argument is the elimination of federalism and a single government at the federal level.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Not at all.

It's simply an understanding that states rights don't include the right to violate fundamental rights of citizens.

And, that the federal government has a legitimate role to play in making sure that states don't do that.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Then we agree

  1. Ths SC did not rule the voting rights act unconstitutional

2 States were violating civil rights 40 years ago

  1. The federal government has a responsibility to address such institutional violations

  2. The SC did rule that the data that has been used to place 9 states in violation is dated and needs to be updated.

  3. In the absence of data to the contrary those states can no longer be held to a more stringent standard.

  4. If as argued above, their is still wide spread institutional racism than updating the process will find it and the accountable institution will be held liable

It is that simple!

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Either it's unconstitutional or it's not - which do you believe?

It doesn't make any sense to say that it was constitutional before and now it's not, so it has to be one or the other.

Constitutionality isn't based on "necessity", it's based on compliance with the constitution.

Ginsburg's umbrella analogy is a good one - the fact that it works doesn't mean you don't need it.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

It was and now it is not. You seem to be looking for some form of simple solution.

Since what occurred was criminal let us look at an example.

Joe steals an apple Joe gets caught Joe is sent to jail Joe serves his time Joe is released Joe returns to normal life and his transgression is now mediated

Now that all of the nine states caught in the voting rights noose have substantially corrected their transgressions and essentially served their time when do we release them?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

The constitution didn't change in any relevant way between then and now, so how can that be?

What part of the constitution gives the federal government the right to intervene, but only in certain circumstances? Do you have a section you can cite for me?

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

What part of the constitution gives the federal government the authority to intervene at all. In the case of the voting rights act the Congress passed a law that said they did. That law has passed SC scrutiny and is apparently constitutional. The voting rights act remains in force.

What is not in force is a portion of the act that used data to determine violations that resulted in 9 states being held to more stringent standards. The court found that part of the law unconstitutional.

This happens all the time where one part of a law passes muster and another part does not. The overall law is constitutional and the part using old data to identify miscreants is not. All we need is new standards or for the executive to find another state in violation using some reasonable standard (preferably approved by Congress) and then we will see if the SC will chose to address that.

In the meantime the voting rights act remains constitutional.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

That's a good statement of what happened.

But, why is that section now unconstitutional if it was previously constitutional?

Let's use the horse and buggy law - if horses and buggies no longer exist, does that make previous laws about them unconstitutional?

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Your question is fundamental to state - federal relations. I will post more tomorrow

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Interesting, Jafs, that you claim 74 examples in 13 years is significant, yet when it comes to the numbers of illegal immigrants who try to vote, in just about equal numbers, those who are opposed to things like voter I.D. requirements claim numbers like that are insignificant.

Which is it, Jafs. Are those numbers so small that no government action is needed or are they significant enough to justify government intervention?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Since I'm not opposed to voter ID laws, I'm not the right person to ask.

I find it completely reasonable for us to make sure that those voting are citizens, and who they claim to be.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Nice duck. There are about 50 million citizens in the nine states under special circumstances. Some 74 or so of them have been charged with continued civil rights violations. That sound small to me maybe .0001%. When the law was first passed whole states had laws that would cause most of us today to blush.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago


That may be evidence that the VRA "worked" or it may be evidence that the VRA "is working".

If it's the latter, then it's not a good reason to change the VRA, it's a good reason to keep using it.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

It is still there. Create new processes to determine who gets special scrutiny

Mike Ford 4 years, 11 months ago

Mister letters in bold.....I went to the school museum involved in the Brown V. Board of Education decision reversing the ruling in Plessy V. Ferguson in Topeka yesterday. If segregation was the desire of states and it took the federal government to send troops to Little Rock and Oxford and the rest of the South to cause integration how is the Federal Government the problem? they aren't. Smoke and mirrors people want this to be the case but it's not. People who are affected by no review of the tactics in the guilty states know the consequences that those who know no history ignore. States don't know better. For the ranting and clueless I will introduce the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution which trumps states rights unless the states rights people get in power and sabotage the US Government which is what is being attempted as we speak.

Richard07 4 years, 11 months ago

The courts ruling basically stated you can't use 1960's "status quo" or standards, if you prefer, as the basis for the implementing current day voting rights act. If as many of you allude to the bill "has worked" then to the degree the bill has achieved success and positive changed has been the result, this change has to be reflected in how the bill is currently implemented. How can you say the bill has worked but no give credit to states for achieving their respective success by relaxing or changing how the bill is enforced in those areas. Its like sending a man to jail for robbery for five years and at the end of his five year sentence telling him "We're going to leave you here indefinitely because we have noticed your activity as a thief the last five years is way down so incarceration seems to work, so... here you stay."

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't buy the analogy.

Requiring states to have federal oversight before they can make changes to their voting procedures isn't analogous to being in jail.

One can believe that the VRA "is working", rather than "has worked", and so we should continue using it.

But, let's use your analogy a little bit more - there's a very high rate of recidivism, so folks that claim that somebody who's been in jail for a while won't re-offend, so we should let him out, are mistaken. If the reason they haven't re-offended yet is because they've been in jail, then keeping them there would prevent a recurrence of crime, not letting them out.

Armored_One 4 years, 11 months ago

There is a simple cure for this that is utterly and completely fair.

It's called a grid. As long as the grid forms actual squares and not rectangles, or any other shape, then there can be chance of gerrymandering. If every state in the nation adopted a regulated method like that, then this issue solves itself.

The rest of the issue, namely low voting rates, is a whole different issue. If another JFK came along, or maybe another Lincoln, then we might actually see massive turn out, if only to cause a major landslide victory. But until someone comes along that can like those men, it's not going to improve any time soon.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

OK JAFS I have lost the thread. When you and I get into arguments about constitutionality I bet informed people on here blush. Neither of us knows a great deal about the realities. Having written that, I will one more time try to present my uninformed argument.

The constitution assigns roles to different levels of our political system. The FFs were to the best of their ability definitive as to what powers belong to the feds. The rest of the powers belong to the states and us. Now in general issues about voting are addressed at the state and local levels where voting occurs. The fed has little as a defined role (mostly eligibility requirements for federal offices).

To me (here is the important part) that means the feds under normal circumstances have no business inserting themselves into state affairs on voting matters. However, if a state is violating the constitution then the feds have a mandate to address it. Once the issue causing the original determination that the states are violating the constitution is addressed then there is no longer justification for the feds to involve themselves. If they continue to involve themselves that action is unconstitutional.

You are creating a false conundrum by focusing on voting rights. The court determination focused on states’ rights.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Where in the constitution do you find the part that says the feds only have a right to interfere in those circumstances?

And, again, if the use of the VRA is what's helping the situation, it hasn't "addressed it", it's "addressing it".

Voting rights are the reason that the feds got involved in the first place, so it's not a false anything.

If you're a state that wants to discriminate against a certain population, but know that you have to submit to federal approval before any changes, I can pretty much guarantee that you won't be trying much to discriminate, because you know it just won't work. That explains the great decrease in those attempts in those states. Once that requirement goes away, again I'm pretty sure that attempts to discriminate will increase.

You're right that they said the process should be "updated", but who knows what that means, and whether or not Congress will do that in a decent sort of way?

Bottom line - if the states aren't doing anything wrong, then the requirement is a minor inconvenience at worst. And isn't that an argument often used by the more conservative folks about all sorts of things, including 4th amendment rights? I wonder why this would be different for them.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Now you are arguing prior constraint. You are not currently institutionally violating somebodies rights but you have in the past and you might in the future therefore the penalties we enacted when you did violate voting rights will be continued forever because you might in the future. Frightening.

Show me where in the constitution that the the federal government was appointed overseer in chief of all the states. In my reading of the constitution the states and the federal government are equal in power with the federal government limited by the specific assignment of powers.

You are asking me to prove the negative when the constitution was designed to provide only enumerated powers and there is no enumerated power to regulate voting rights in the states.

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