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In the midst of the Petraeus maelstrom, I just heard another important breaking story on MSNBC. Forgive me if it's already been diaried.

See the details from SCOTUSblog below the fluffy orange cloud:

http://www.scotusblog.com/...

Acting three days after the nation’s minority voters showed that they have increased and still growing power in U.S. elections, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on a challenge to Congress’s power to protect those groups’ rights at the polls.  The Court said it would hear claims that Congress went beyond its authority when it extended for another 25 years the nation’s most important civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and renewed four times since then.

Specially at issue is the constitutionality of the law’s Section 5, the most important provision, under which nine states and parts of seven others with a past history of racial bias in voting must get official clearance in Washington before they may put into effect any change in election laws or procedures, no matter how small.  The Court came close to striking down that section three years ago, but instead sent Congress clear signals that it should update the law so that it reflects more recent conditions, especially in the South.  Congress did nothing in reaction.

The Court accepted the Voting Rights case from Shelby County, Ala., and agreed to review three other new cases . . .

In agreeing to rule on the Voting Rights Act, the Court limited its review to a question which it composed itself: ”Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage fomulal of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”   The Tenth Amendment protects the powers of states by limiting Congress’s powers.  Article IV guarantees each state a “republican form of government,” meaning it is protected in its right of self-government.   The question specified by the Court differed from that posed by Shelby County’s lawyers only by adding a reference to the Fourteenth Amendment.  The case to be decided in Shelby County v. Holder (12-96).

The LA Times wrote about the case in October:
In the voting rights case, Shelby County in Alabama is challenging the pre-clearance provisions of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires advance approval of any voting-related change, no matter how minor, in parts or all of 16 states, many of which are Deep South states with long histories of discrimination. In asking that Section 5 be declared unconstitutional, Shelby County relies on familiar arguments, including the contention that minorities vote and are elected to office in pre-clearance states at rates comparable to those in other states.

Several justices may be sympathetic to those arguments. In 2009, Roberts noted that "things have changed in the South" and therefore that Section 5 and the formula used to trigger pre-clearance raised "serious constitutional questions." But Congress spent a good deal of time studying the issue when it extended Section 5 in 2006 and concluded that voting discrimination requires special attention in so-called covered jurisdictions. That congressional judgment is entitled to deference from the Supreme Court.

http://articles.latimes.com/...

In an October editorial, The New York Times opined:

A section of the act requires states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to obtain clearance from the Justice Department or a court before changing voting procedures. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has already expressed his distaste for this provision. That provision is an essential safeguard against unfair voting procedures and enforces the core purpose of the 15th Amendment, and should be upheld.

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Comment Preferences

  •  take the Justice Department (22+ / 0-)

    out of review in the South, and the current voter suppression efforts of Republican legislatures will look like child's play.

    •  I'd think all you'd have to do (10+ / 0-)

      is rub the justices'  noses in this year's electoral map until they get that a black man remains unacceptable as president in the deep South.  But then, these are some pretty old dogs under those robes.

      Parenthetically, I can't remember a more openly bigoted time in my adult life than right now.

      And then, there's Florida.

      "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

      by Mogolori on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:31:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  they will refuse to see it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMtnState

        folk like that always do.

        they cannot see what is right in front of their faces.

        they are constitutionally incapable of putting themselves in another person's shoes, or setting aside their privilege, to see things from an oppressed minority point of view.

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
        Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:33:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There are plenty of states (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, TrueBlueMajority

      without federal oversight that did pass these laws. We should probably expand the pre-clearance states, rather than do away with the current ones.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:26:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  THIS! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMtnState, skohayes

        I think federal oversight should be extended to all the states with respect to changes that affect federal elections (president, congress).

        that said, I am not surprised that the SCt is considering striking down the voting rights act.  they will simply refuse to recognize and accept the fact that face-based voting shenanigans took place on a large scale all over the country this cycle, not just in the old confederacy.

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
        Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:31:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Setting the stage for more vote suppression (7+ / 0-)

    You can bet they will strike down the law down since the GOP is actively opposed to any law that might increase turnout.

    The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

    by AoT on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:11:57 PM PST

    •  This court is a random number generator (5+ / 0-)

      on some things. Remember, they upheld health care reform. Which we were certain the big money insurance industry was going to win. I'm not counting barnyard fowl until they're fully incubated on this one.

      To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

      by ontheleftcoast on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:16:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Head douchebag of the court upheld (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMtnState, tonyahky

        HCR so that he could appear impartial when he attacks things like voters rights and anything else that may help the GOP get power.

        That is one single instance of the conservatives being even remotely non-partisan.

        The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:41:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  SCOTUS decision on ACA saved the industry (0+ / 0-)

        Not into the way you used "We".

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:10:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That presumes striking down ACA (0+ / 0-)

          would have doomed the insurance industry, which is just not a logical conclusion. Had ACA been struck down entirely, we would be back to the former 'insurance for some and sick people are on their own' system.
          There would not have been an instant popular revolt to install a single payer system within the next month.

          It would have been another 10 years until any sort of reform would have taken place.
          Under ACA, any state can set up a single payer in 4 years and Vermont is working on a waiver to set one up right now.
          Striking down halfway because you think that will suddenly create perfection is a fool's errand.

    •  It is imperative that we remove the governor's (5+ / 0-)

      and SoS' that put the state level voter suppression efforts in place during the mid-term elections, if for no other reason than to have some protection from this out of control SCOTUS.

      It's the Central Limit Theorum, Stupid!

      by smartdemmg on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:37:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, to do that we'll have to beat vote (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMtnState, luckylizard

        suppression and disenfranchisement.  It's a catch 22.  The federal law exists for a reason and it isn't because the states just didn't try hard enough to be fair.  It's because these sorts of bullshit are self reinforcing.

        The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:42:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  47 years of settled law.... let's change it! (5+ / 0-)

    It would be one thing if Shelby County, Alabama could come forward and make a serious case that they should no longer be bound by the requriements of the Voting Rights Act.

    That is provided for in the 1984 amendment to the Act - a state or county within a state - covered by section 5 has to show it isn't discriminating anymore, and hasn't for 10 7 years.

    So instead of simply showing they aren't discriminating, this county wants the law overturned.

    Gee, that sounds fair!

    So this heads to the most conservative Supreme Court of the past century..... any guess how they're going to rule?

    Cheers.

    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

    by databob on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:21:13 PM PST

    •  From an October editorial in the NYT: (5+ / 0-)
      A section of the act requires states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to obtain clearance from the Justice Department or a court before changing voting procedures. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has already expressed his distaste for this provision. That provision is an essential safeguard against unfair voting procedures and enforces the core purpose of the 15th Amendment, and should be upheld.
      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      Every honest communication poses a risk that we will hear something that could challenge or change us. -- Kenneth Cloke

      by GreenMtnState on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:29:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "things have changed in the south". (6+ / 0-)

    I got a funny reading that one.  Just look at Florida voting lines and you'll see just how much things have changed in the South.

    Expose the lies. Fight for the truth. Push progressive politics. Save our planet. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

    by lighttheway on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:27:30 PM PST

    •  No they haven't... (10+ / 0-)

      I lived in Louisiana for 5 years and anyone who claims that racism and all its ugly trappings is 'changed' in any meaningful way, can only make that argument because of the positive effects of laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

      The predatory and dangerous animals in the zoo don't become less dangerous because they've been behind fences for years and years. That's why we don't pull down the fences when the lions grow up.

      Florida, IMHO, is a slightly different case because of the demographics - fewer 'real' southerners, more 'snowbirds'. But not different enough to give them a pass, for sure.

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:33:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shelby county is ground zero (5+ / 0-)

    In Slavery by another name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II.

    The Age of Neo-Slavery

    In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—when a cynical new form of slavery was resurrected from the ashes of the Civil War and re-imposed on hundreds of thousands of African-Americans until the dawn of World War II.

    Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.

    The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies which discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.

    Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II.

    SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

    The hardest book I have ever tried to read. I can only read about half a chapter before wanting to puke. But I've wanted to read it since it came out because of the truth it tells.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 02:14:31 PM PST

  •  They better be careful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMtnState, tonyahky

    There could be HUGE blowback from this... especially considering the massive voter surpression this cycle

  •  This diary should be getting much more views (6+ / 0-)

    There is also a summary of the issues at Demos.

    For over 45 years Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has stood as a bulwark against racial discrimination in voting. When the Supreme Court last reviewed a case challenging the constitutionality of Section 5, it failed to reach a decision on the merits and left the issue open for another day. That day is here.

    However, the events of the last three years have if anything only strengthened the case for the continued need for the protections of Section 5. Both the Department of Justice and several federal courts have found that states covered by Section 5 have engaged in clear racial discrimination in redistricting and in the enactment of laws placing new and unwarranted restrictions on the right to vote.

    This is a vitally important case, and now it is clearly on the SCOTUS docket.

    The implications are chilling - imagine Florida, under Rick Scott, with the Justice Department having constrained recourse to challenge.

  •  This diary needs to be on the rec list--sharing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMtnState, skohayes

    on Facebook.

  •  Really not a surprise. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, GreenMtnState

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:11:44 PM PST

  •  Thomas & Scalia Will Get Koch Brothers Direction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMtnState

    Wonder when the next conference will take place so they can get their marching orders.  Great site seeing Supreme Court Judges licking their master's boots.

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