Maybe it was earlier in the day.
Oh, well, the death of Brown v. Board was hardly diaried as such either,
so maybe I should be less surprised.
But today, in a case from my home state, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that you can't use the Voting Rights Act to justify drawing a district to protect black voters if the black voters so protected constitute less than 50% of the voters of the resulting district. Protection via decent white people DOESN'T COUNT any more -- in fact, it's now explicitly prohibited in any context where state policy cuts against it, which in North Carolina it sort of does: the Republicans recently resurrected a long-disused clause of the state constitution requiring state legislative districts to follow county lines (to consist of whole counties, or be contained in single counties), to the extent "possible".
As in "possible" without violating equal population.
This is obviously IMpossible, which is why the clause
had been disused. But we suffered a Republican State supreme court ruling declaring that this requirement had to be "harmonized" with equal population.
I don't want to bore you with the idiotic logic of the Republican North Carolina Supreme Court (we will just try to have a Democratic majority there one day). But the logic (illogic, excuse me) of Anthony Kennedy in the current federal Supreme Court ruling is beyond all endurance, frankly.
He is outlawing districts where black and white voters are allying for victory and fairness, allegedly in the name of getting PAST race,
while endorsing requirements that black voters be more concentrated and therefore basically more ghettoized (into districts where there is LESS incentive for racial co-operation). In places where co-operation is possible, he is basically requiring that it be cracked out of existence.
Arguing the merits:
"Minority groups in crossover districts cannot form a voting majority without crossover voters," Justice Kennedy wrote. "In those districts minority voters have the same opportunity to elect their candidate as any other political group with the same relative voting strength."
This is complete and utter bullshit.
In the first place, HE IS OUTLAWING these districts in his ruling, so alleging that fairness occurs in them is undercutting HIS OWN argument.
More to the point, other political groups of the same size ARE FAR LESS LIKELY TO BE DEALING WITH RACISM AS THE REASON why they have trouble forming coalitions. A crossover district is one in which "opportunity" has crossed a relevant threshold, in which the white people grouped with the minority are, at least in part, WILLING TO OFFER opportunity for coalition. In the continued presence of racial polarization, black communities of that size DO NOT have equal opportunity to form coalitions as non-despised communities of the same size.
But Kennedy is just full of shit about everything related to race;
he already proved that in the school desegregation decision (Parents v. Seattle).
Justice Souter added, "States will be required under the plurality's rule to pack black voters into additional majority-minority districts, contracting the number of districts where racial minorities are having success in transcending racial divisions in securing their preferred representation."
Which is obviously the whole Republican intent of the suit (and Kennedy's
ruling) IN ANY case. Yet they claim to deny it and even the face of this obvious effect, insist that other rationales are controlling:
Justice Kennedy said that enforcing the VRA to protect minority voting clout in districts where minority voters did not constitute a majority would "grant special protection to a minority group's right to form political coalitions."
This is possibly the single most idiotic thing ANYBODY HAS EVER
said. How does he not manage to see that disallowing these districts
GRANTS THE SAME special protection to THE OTHER SIDE?!?
Natural Democratic demographic majorities ARE NOW AUTHORIZED IF NOT REQUIRED TO BE CRACKED BY THIS interpretation, THEREBY GRANTING SPECIAL PROTECTION TO CONSERVATIVES' rights to form winning coalitions IN THE RESULTING districts! Of course, to Kennedy, it doesn't COUNT as a "coalition", apparently, if everybody in it is the same color.
If that's not the very same race-consciousness that he claims to eschew, then pigs are flying.
Claiming, again falsely, to simply be reading the law,
The law safeguards those who already possess the "potential to elect" favored representatives from losing that potential through vote dilution, he wrote.
Obviously, SINCE WE ARE NOW ALREADY DOING IT UNDER THESE DISTRICTS, our coalitions already have the power to elect, and we WILL be losing it under this ruling. Notwithstanding that the law never should have said anything in any case about past potential TO BEGIN with, given how evil the past was.
The only glimmer of hope:
In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the high court's decision "severely undermines" the aim of the act. "Today's decision returns the ball to Congress' court," she wrote. "The legislature has just cause to clarify beyond debate the appropriate reading of Section 2."
IF WE ACTUALLY HAD A BLACK PRESIDENT,
legislation and litigation to undo this would be getting filed THIS MONTH (March). But the financial crisis and the stimulus&omnibus spending and the war and the delayed appointments and a whole host of other things MUST OF COURSE be considered more important than black people whining about our VOTING RIGHTS given that we JUST VOTED a President into office.
The only decent thing inside North Carolina about this is that a lot of our crossover districts are in urban counties with more than 1 district,
so the county rule there harms ONLY districts on a border of counties whose population doesn't divide evenly into districts. My county (the second largest) happens to have a population of about exactly 9 districts, so none of our districts is directly affected. But we would now not be able to prevent Republicans from packing our urban crossover districts OUT of existence IF they were ever to take a majority in either chamber after winning the districts that they will win from THIS ruling.
THIS HAS GOT TO GET FIXED BEFORE districts in general get redrawn for 2010.
We will also arguably have a chance at a federal suit FROM THE OTHER SIDE if we catch them drawing whole-county/intra-county districts in a context where a 50%+ district could be drawn across county lines.