Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act forced states that had poor minority registration or turnout numbers in the 1960s to remain in a permanent penalty box from which they were forced to seek Justice Department approval for the most basic of election-law decisions.Not permanent. All you had to do was, you know, stop discriminating against people. As it turns out, that's been an Edmund Pettus Bridge too far for a great bloody many of them, since there are still certain counties where inviting black people to a high school prom is considered shocking and certain states where the confederate battle flag still somehow finds its way to the top of the flagpole.
Congress is free to come up with a different, updated coverage formula for pre-clearance, but given the DOJ’s current stained reputation Congressional action looks unlikely in the near future.Congress couldn't pass a farm bill because they couldn't decide whether to merely starve poor people or use them as actual garden mulch. I'm thinking "Congressional action" has very little to do with whether or not conservatives have a sad over the Department of Justice.
But cheer up, America, for today has been a great victory. Not just for racists, who will have to jump through one less hoop when deciding what newfangled laws ought to exist to keep certain people from voting, and not just for opportunistic racists, who like the minority folks just fine but are going to have a damn hard time staying in office if those minority folks started casting ballots in proportion to their population, but for minorities themselves. Because now gerrymandering will stop.
Clint Bolick, director of litigation for the conservative Goldwater Institute in Arizona, says the demise of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act will also reduce the balkanization of racial gerrymandering that has become so popular lately. “Voting districts drawn on racial or ethnic lines divide Americans,” he says. “This decision helps move us toward the day in which racial gerrymandering becomes a relic of the past.”No doubt. After all, what motivation would exist for conservatives to gerrymander districts for racial reasons? It would be silly.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the Supreme Court's decision, the thing that really brings home how divorced from the wider national reality the court has become: With this decision, there are now members of the Civil Rights Movement who have outlived the very protections they won during that era.
Perhaps that should become the new pre-clearance standard. Any American state or county should be subject to pre-clearance of their voting laws so long as they have even one living citizen who has been improperly denied the right to vote in the past, or who had to take a test or pay a fee to exercise their voting rights, or who found themselves subjected to a racially motivated gerrymander, or who was "accidentally" tossed from the voting rolls when they should not have been, or who found themselves required to produce identification that a differently colored person before or after them in line was curiously not asked to provide. That should cover things nicely and for a good many more decades, and the list of living Americans that can enter their own personal stories into those books might, for the good chief justice, prove an educational read.