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Chief Justice John Roberts
Chief Justice John Roberts
caricature by DonkeyHotey.
Three decades ago, when John Roberts, now chief justice of the Supreme Court, was just a Reagan-hired grunt in the conservative movement's efforts to roll back the clock on progressive achievements, he became the point man for defeating the 1982 renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Which has led close observers to expect that he will be part of a majority of five that will all but demolish the act based on the case the court heard oral arguments on Wednesday.

In his Mother Jones exploration of Roberts's work to wreck the VRA in the 1980s, Adam Serwer leaves the door open half a smidgen for the possibility the chief justice might change his mind when making his decision on Shelby County (Alabama) v. Holder.

To reiterate what's at issue: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires that all or parts of 16 states, most of them in the South, must pre-clear any changes in their voting laws to ensure they do not discriminate against minorities. Those jurisdictions were chosen in the original act or added in amendments because they had long histories of such discrimination against African Americans and, in some regions, against American Indians and Latinos. Civil rights activists and an overwhelming majority of Congress as of 2006 (when the act was renewed) believed the provisions of Section 5 were still needed then. Foes argue that it's obsolete or, at the very least, should be expanded to cover all the states. Universal coverage is something critics say could kill the effectiveness of the act by stretching the resources of the Department of Justice and federal courts too thin.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan took the stance that the provisions of Section 5 "impose[d] burdens unequally upon different parts of the nation." Activists, Serwer writes, didn't want merely to renew the law, they wanted to strengthen it with a rewrite in light of a 1980 Supreme Court decision that had diluted it by requiring prosecutors to prove intentional discrimination. Intentional or not, all discrimination in voting practices should be forbidden, the activists said:

Roberts wasn't having it. Voting rights violations, according to one memo he helped draft in 1981, "should not be too easy to prove since they provide a basis for the most intrusive interference imaginable." If Roberts and the Reagan administration had gotten their way, discriminatory voting systems in most of the country could only be barred when discrimination could be shown to be intentional. That would make it much tougher for the feds to intervene in states and localities and guarantee equal voting rights. The Reagan administration argued that they were just trying to preserve the Voting Rights Act, but it was really attempting to preserve a Supreme Court ruling neutering the law.

Roberts helped the administration hone its argument. He wrote that it made sense for parts of the VRA to require proof that discrimination was intentional.

The Reagan administration lost that fight. Now, with Shelby in the dock, the hope of activists is that perhaps Roberts has moderated his stance. But in a ruling in 2009, he seemed to echo Reagan's view that there could not forever be "punishment" of the South for past behavior. One modification of the law that leaned in the critics' direction in the 1982 renewal gave jurisdictions the option of bailing out of Section 5 if they could prove they no longer needed to be under federal supervision. Roberts stated in that 2009 case that the Justice Department had made the bailout provision "all but a nullity." But in the years since that decision, more than a hundred jurisdictions have bailed out. Shelby County hasn't been able to argue it deserves a bailout because in 2006, it gerrymandered away the district of the only black city council member in one county town.

Roberts, Serwer concludes, argued in 1982 that elected officials, not judges, should decide the rules governing when a jurisdiction had proved it was deserving of a bailout. If he stuck to that view, Section 5 would survive. It would be naive to imagine that he will not modify the argument he made when he was 27 in order to extend the bailout to all the covered jurisdictions.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:20 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why is it such a surprise that the burdens (24+ / 0-)

    are placed differently on different regions...but the real burden remains on the folks who were denied rights by the differential systems of laws that was Jim Crow.

    Don't states have a burden to equalize long term structural inequalities?

    After all, it took the US Government 100 years to get around to passing the Voting Rights Act, doesn't it deserve 100 years of "effect" before being dismantled?

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:26:21 PM PST

    •  Can't believe they are asking, is the south (12+ / 0-)

      really more racist than the north? I now live in the south, in FL, as a lifelong northerner and I'd say, YES. The place fairly vibrates with it. When I first moved here I was glad because I thought I'd get more interaction with blacks but then I noticed that whenever I tried they were not interested at all. I think it's just that they are used to not having whites interested in interacting, which is shocking. But then learning of the history here which continued for so long in the last century, I'm no longer surprised by that.

      Sorry, I know this is a broad generalization and apologize in advance if it offends anyone. I do realize that there are many friendships (like my niece whose best friend here is black) and instances where this is very different, depends on where you are within this area. And am not saying most whites here are racist either.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:53:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know, right? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, Gorette

        Last time I checked, bears still shat in the woods.

        When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

        by Words In Action on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:59:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, no, its Kenyan's they hate now. So its all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette

        just fine.  

        Though, who knew there were so many Kenyan AA and latinos in the US?

      •  bologna!!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette

        I'm from mississippi on the coast. My group of friends, who i hung out with everyday was very diverse asian latino iranian and AA, Like it or not yankees can come across like there trying to hard and are fake like we are supposed to make a strong judement about you in the first 5 minutes we meet because you think your that imporant, to make a strong impression. i have moved to mo and have found that midwesterners are far more racist. they say racist shit all the time, worse they have no clue there being racist! or start off by saying i'm not racist but. try not comming across like you are trying to make a effort, and jut be organicaly friendly and you will have more positive results.

        •  Missouri = South (0+ / 0-)

          Slave state. Jim Crow. 'Nuff said.

          Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:32:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  where are the (0+ / 0-)

            most segregated cites, THE RUST BELT!!! the two least segregated cities in the usa Houston and Atalanta what's that tell ya.i gess yanks never called italians wops and never told the irish need not apply or called anybody a stupid rican. I gess the north never experienced riots or shot unarmed minorities, and i assume  New York does not disproportionately stop and frisk minorities. Sounds like a great place to live.

            •  Never said (0+ / 0-)

              the north was free of all problems. I'm Irish, I wrote all about that history. My wife's from Puerto Rico, I know all about that too.

              But last I checked northern states didn't forbid people to sit at the same lunch counter or drink from the same fountain in my parents' lifetime. And hanging people from trees for sport was never huge here. If not for brave protesters who gave their lives, and federal intervention, your home state would still not have integrated luncheonettes. Mississippi and its neighbors have been holding back sensible policy in this country for about 200 years. So don't lecture me.

              And yes, I'd sure as hell rather live here than down there.

              Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

              by fenway49 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 07:54:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I read your diary (0+ / 0-)

                i enjoyed it it was very good.I reced it when it came out.being from boston surely you remember the boston busing crisis (1974-1988) a series of protest and riots in response to the passing of 1965 racial imbalance act of 1965. I'm sure that took place in you'r parents lifetime. Yes hanging people from trees may have not been a past time, but police shooting minorites, throwing them down flights of stairs,picking up AA teenagers and drooping them off in white naborhoods  after dark so the could get there ass wopped ,and beating out confessions was . All common pratice in the 70s and 80s,during your parents lifetime. My grandparents are from New Jersy while people in nj do not say the n word they do say (the blacks) with such disgust and disdain it's hard for me not to throw up ,And lets not forget the dot busters of nj who went around beating the shit out of indians in nj in the late 90s during your parents lifetime .Martin Luther king is quoted as saying of all the places i have been nothing compares to the hate i experenced in chicago. In indiana half of the elected members of the general assembly were ku kluk klan menbers in 1925 including the governor. Yes without a doubt the south have been holding back sensible policy for 200 years and i don't begrude you for wanting to live in your home state.And yes I have heard some crazy recent stories about my home state, and yes I live in a more socially progressive area than the rest of my state (the coast) The editor of mississippi press came out in favor of desegration in the 60s, so i might be a little biased. You are more than welcome to move hear some day, we could allways use more dems I think you will find it a pretty cool place to live.

      •  Part of the problem is the framing (6+ / 0-)

        Republicans consider this to be a form of discrimination against the South for past sins, rather than an effort to prevent discrimination against real living breathing people in specific jurisdictions.  Two thoughts:

        The GOP always attributes personhood to organizations or even geographic regions.  Discrimination against "the south"?  That's as silly as "corporations are people, my friend".  The VRA causes no burden to southern communities or southern people who comply with the VRA.  It's only a burden on communities and individuals trying to game the system to shut out minorities.

        The whole "past sins" frame is a little foolish. As others have pointed out, disenfranchising half of Michigan's black community in local elections through the misuse of emergency managers is just as much a violation. Let's expand the franchise, not contract it.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:22:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very good arguments there. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:14:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Everytime I see you here I think about the (0+ / 0-)

          pileated woodpeckers I see from time to time where I live in Florida. My secret wish is that I will someday be blessed to see one with an ivory bill. I know. But we can hope.

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:16:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

          that is the problem in a nutshell:

          Republicans consider this to be a form of discrimination against the South for past sins, rather than an effort to prevent discrimination against real living breathing people in specific jurisdictions.

          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:28:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I wish I could remember (14+ / 0-)

    who wrote the piece in The New York Review of Books last year re: Roberts and the Obamacare case.  The author argued quite convincingly that Roberts would vote with the majority -- a completely political move with his legacy in mind.  Shockingly, Roberts ended up being the swing vote.

    I do think Roberts is more a political creature.  Sure, most jurists are -- but most do separate the law from political or personal considerations.  Methinks Roberts will calculate how he will seen historically when he makes his decision.  Sad because it is cowardice.  

    And remind me why Alito is on the bench.  Scalia and Thomas are just obvious but Alito is undistinguished for good or evil.  

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:31:50 PM PST

  •  I Often Mention My Mom Is A Republican (10+ / 0-)

    also runs elections in her district. We don't always agree on this or that, but one thing there is no debate on is that voting is important. Everybody should be able to vote. It should be easy. How you can be against any law that makes voting easier is heard for me to comprehend. It is one of the those times where my mom and I have no disagreement.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:32:54 PM PST

  •  There is one part of the Voting Rights Act (26+ / 0-)

    I don't agree with. That it's basically frozen in the 60's IS a problem. When states like Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are trying to cram thru voter ID laws clearly designed to disenfranchise minority voters shouldn't we just apply it to all the states? The remnants of the Confederacy aren't just in the South anymore. With the deep red Mountain West and some of the former Rustbelt states are coming up with new poll taxes and Jim Crow laws maybe it's time to EXPAND the act rather than eliminate it.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:34:07 PM PST

    •  We Can't Expand Any Progressive Law Like This. (7+ / 0-)

      For my money every state must pre clear but with the unlosesable House, Republicans won't allow a better policy to replace what's struck down.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:39:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So? We should still fight them (10+ / 0-)

        For the last 20 years or so the Repukes have used the strategy of being crazy everywhere hoping that some of the crazy slips thru the cracks. Why can't we be aggressively progressive everywhere? Make them defend their crazy on every possible front. Make up new ones for them to fear. They've bullied us long enough, time to fight back -- but with brains not brawn.

        What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

        by ontheleftcoast on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:44:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I Just Don't Understand. I Live In A Blue State (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beetwasher

        but a red district. Do I like folks vote different than myself, well not so much. But that is how things are and I can live with losing an election if that is the will of the people. To rig an election to win it or making it harder for people to vote I just don't get. Will never get.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:45:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  EXPAND! Yes, but lets survive this challange 1st (5+ / 0-)

      :-)

      whole heartedly agree EXPAND!!!  

    •  Well, that is a possible, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, DSPS owl

      (though unlikely) solution to Robert's problem:  If he thinks that enforcement is uneven, just apply it to everybody.  If any state, regardless of history, wants to screw the voters over, they must get permission.  I'd be OK with that.

      Start with Federal Court approval of all redistricting.  End the gerrymander.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:32:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR

        the SCOTUS can change or make law, so they can't change the law to apply to all the states... i think federal laws have to originate in congress ... so the  SCOTUS can keep the law as it is or they can get rid of it ..... but i don't think they can expand it in anyway .... i'm not all that sure if i'm right, but this is my understanding of this ....

    •  If a budget increase for the federal courts... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, ontheleftcoast

      ...and appropriate sector of the Dept. of Justice came with the expansion, then it might be a good idea. But it has been noted by many civil rights activists, among other folks, that expanding coverage universally could actually weaken or kill the effectiveness of Section 5.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:48:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That could be the case, true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northerntier

        But with so many states trying to rig the system we need something, somewhere to keep it from happening. If not the federal government then who?

        What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

        by ontheleftcoast on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:59:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why is that ? (0+ / 0-)

        I have difficulties to understand why this would be the case.

  •  Yes, BUT his historical legacy/ego, mr important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris

    to him

    My question is when did he say the statement that he did about things have changed...was it before or after scalia's insanity

    if before then am hopeful that scalia's crazy might push roberts to do the right thing and not overturn 4 x precedent of SCOTUS upholding the voting rights act

    If after scalia's crazy then a bit worried

    In the end going to be optimistic and pin hopes on roberts ego = legacy vs his past stances on the voting rights act

  •  I am out of patience with this court. (13+ / 0-)

    I am out of patience with so much that I could spend decades (if I should be so blessed to have them) just ranting and preaching like a loon to the masses of ignorant masses that civil rights means something.  Equal justice for all means something.   Accountability for actions..mean something.   If this section is struck down, there will be no stopping this court on anything, IMO.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:42:29 PM PST

    •  I'm with you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, OleHippieChick, JanL

      I find it just incredible that this was even heard. I should say I found it shocking until I read MB's post - there's always a back story and jeez they can hang on to some old shit. I am part really angry and part sad tears burning. Assholes.

      Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

      by hulibow on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:38:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  & that xy*z Scalia-- (9+ / 0-)

    rapscallion that he is--says that blacks getting voting rights protections is an "entitlement"?

    Well, was slavery an "entitlement"?

    Was Jim Crow an "entitlement"?

    And after all, are we not all entitled to our voting rights, and do not minorities still need them more than whites? And if the north is also racist as they imply, why not just extend the whole "entitlement" to all states?

    Hearing this tonight has me livid. Wow. Can't believe the SCOTUS may stop these protections. They are wanting to help Republicans gain the presidency, that's all it is.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:48:04 PM PST

  •  & Roberts owes Scalia after the Healthcare switch. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, fabucat

    Needs to get his conservative street cred back.

    When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

    by Words In Action on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:58:31 PM PST

  •  Talk about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Navy Vet Terp, Meteor Blades

    a lack of intelligence or creative thought!

    Roberts wasn't having it. Voting rights violations, according to one memo he helped draft in 1981, "should not be too easy to prove since they provide a basis for the most intrusive interference imaginable."
    If this is the most intrusive he can imagine, he is just thinking inside of a very small and confined box.  

    And has never had to pass a "literacy test" or other Jim Crow law.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:14:01 PM PST

  •  SCOTUS has been sucking for a long time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    the whole "grow this type of wheat thing" commerce BS that was used for the ACA, Kelo, the installation of Shrubya , Exxon Valdez, Citizens Screwed.....

    We need a regular person on that court. An empathetic person, maybe a florist or a crossing guard.

    At the very least we need a shadow court that has some visibility that can dissect each cert and shred every decision.

    We can call it the REAL Court.

    •  It's really hard to imagine... (0+ / 0-)

      ...a non-lawyer being very good at fulfilling their duties as a Supreme Court Justice.

      Courts are supposed to make decisions based on the law, not emotions and popular opinion.

      Legislators, of course, are free to make laws based on emotions and certainly need to consider popular opinion (of the population that votes in elections where they are on the ballot).

      If we want laws that are empathetic, we need to hire politicians who will pass those laws.

      •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        The law is getting ever more convoluted. There are no requirements for justices. None. I suppose one has to be 18 and a citizen, but other than that, it's wide open.

        As to empathy, I mean being able to plug in the variables and deduce likely results.

        •  That is technically true... (0+ / 0-)

          ...however, the Federal Government has become sufficiently expansive that even understanding a couple sections of the US code and interpreting them requires the mind, experience, and education of a lawyer. The SCOTUS has to deal with a wide spectrum of cases (even Tax Court cases occasionally). A layperson just can't do it effectively and fairly.

          It's not unlike that someone could be an effective (by the standards of the time) doctor across almost all of medicine 200 years ago. Now, of course, you would never consider going to a "heart surgeon" when you needed "brain surgery" (or visa versa).

  •  What Scalia said today (5+ / 0-)

    made me just want to burst into tears.

    It was that bad.

  •  To put if bluntly. (5+ / 0-)

    The conservatives on the SC will have to decide whether they want to be remembered as the lineal successors of Lincoln's ideal or as the lineal successors of slave owners.

    Do we as a country continue to progress to greater equality or do we regress to racial suppression?

    When the USA has its 300th anniversary how will their decision be seen in the light of the Constitution and its promise of equality.

    •  But their whole party (0+ / 0-)

      made that choice 40 years ago. There's no question the modern GOP, Supreme Court justice or otherwise, has nothing to do with Lincoln. In addition to slavery and race issues, Lincoln was a Whig before the GOP existed. The Whigs were the party of strong central government and public investment in education and infrastructure.

      Though the early Democrats generally were more friendly to immigration than the Whigs, Lincoln was a fierce opponent of the Know Nothing movement. He also spoke in defense of labor and against excessive corporate power. If Lincoln were alive today, there's no doubt in my mind he'd be a Democrat. There is not a single issue on which the modern GOP matches up with him.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:37:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Politicians In Robes" (4+ / 0-)

    Yet some folks here defend SCOTUS as if their perks and perogatives were sacrosanct.

    Bull.

    This branch of government has run amok and allowed the plutocracy the keys to our kingdom. Time to rein them in.

    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

    by ozsea1 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:42:23 PM PST

    •  Yes, but who will? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DEMonrat ankle biter

      They're not open to public input except in writing, but there's never an answer. They are insulated. That really pisses me off. No contact with these whackadoos allowed or acknowledged.

      I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
      "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
      01/01/14 is 2014. End war on Afghanistan.
      Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

      by OleHippieChick on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:24:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What is it about Republican Chief Justices? (3+ / 0-)

    Wasn't Rehnquist involved in voter intimidation before his appointment and wasn't Roberts a staunch member of the "Brooks Brother's Brigade" in Florida in 2000?

    Clearly, Republicans award their biggest stars to those willing to subvert our democracy, which is also why Reagan announced his candidacy mere miles from the quarry where civil rights workers were lynched and buried fighting for what is now yet again under attack.

       

    "extravagant advantage for the few, ultimately depresses the many." FDR

    by Jim R on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:43:04 PM PST

    •  Warren, Burger, Rehnquist, Roberts all Republicans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DEMonrat ankle biter, Jim R, fabucat

      It's been a long ass time since a Chief Justice was a Democrat.

      Chief Justice Warren was a different kind of Republican. While certainly no radical, he sure managed to lead the court of the 50s and 60s in a way that strongly contrasts with his successors.

      I blame it all on Nixxon, but that's not unusual.

      (In a way that's kind of true, since Warren and Nixon were huge rivals in California. Eisenhower appointed Warren to the Court in gratitude for Governor Warren's getting Ike the California delegation and the 1952 nomination. Eisenhower called the appointment the greatest mistake he made as president.)

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:26:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They will gut VRA, but with cosmetics to look (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, fabucat

    like there is something left.  That will allow their Thug masters to claim they are not 'against voting rights' even as they screw every minority and female voter they can.

    Oh, and Scalia will continue to be a insufferable, boorish ass.

  •  Universal suffrage is the key to government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    by the people. Gotta thin that herd any way they can, if the hierarchy is to survive. The population imported from Africa has always been the strongest proponent of justice for all. If they were content with special treatment, they would fit right in.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:46:06 PM PST

  •  Lets see if Roberts and avoid yet another (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeadHead, DEMonrat ankle biter

    Roger B. Taney moment. Here.

    He did it on the ACA, maybe he can do it again. Nobody wants a Wiki that reads like Taneys. Nobody. Especially ambitious judges.

  •  Shouldn't he recuse himself? (0+ / 0-)

    Could a reasonable person believe that someone as personally invested in the issue as he has been, could listen impartially to the current arguments?

    •  There's all kinds of situations one (0+ / 0-)

      could see as being reason enough to warrant recusal.

      Thomas or Kagan depending on which side of the aisle one stands, in regards to ACA.

      Any Justice who holds stock in corporations that would be affected by a decision of the Court.

      And so on.

      Bottom line is it's up to them, so they likely won't.




      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:05:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He believes that for the VRA to be upheld (3+ / 0-)

    its proponents need to demonstrate meaningful ongoing efforts to suppress minority votes. And yet his fellow conservatives see no need to demonstrate meaningful current instances of voter fraud when they try to implement voter ID laws that are de facto efforts to suppress minority votes.

    You simply cannot make this shit up in our Through the Looking Glass times.

    If there's a section of hell for dishonest lawyers who willfully distort the law to attain immoral ends, Roberts has reserved a place in it.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:51:37 PM PST

  •  They still ARE needed! (0+ / 0-)
    Civil rights activists and an overwhelming majority of Congress as of 2006 (when the act was renewed) believed the provisions of Section 5 were still needed then.
    Holy crap, how can anyone look at what 14-felony Rick Scott did to minority voting in Florida and put Sec 5 in the past tense. Between really biased redistricting and gerrymandering and restrictions on voting, including the ludicrous demand that voter registrations be turn in to the Supervisor of Elections within 24 hours.
    How could it possibly appear to be more biased against fair access to voting than it already is? How can a need for Sec 5 be denied in the face of this blatant vote suppression? 200K votes NOT cast in FL because of the voting ass ache inflicted by Gov. Skeletor.

    I ♥ President Obama and have his back.
    "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
    01/01/14 is 2014. End war on Afghanistan.
    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

    by OleHippieChick on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:06:02 PM PST

  •  Scalia should be impeached. (3+ / 0-)

    That is all.

  •  Maybe a stupid question (6+ / 0-)

    But why do Republicans always call compliance with the Voting Rights Act "a punishment"?  The very use of that term makes me think Section 5 is still required. Insisting on equal rights and equal protection is not punishment. If Roberts doesn't want to single out the south, then expand the Voting Rights Act, don't eliminate enforcement.

    "But in 2009, when an earlier challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act reached the Supreme Court, Roberts sounded a lot like Reagan during oral arguments. He echoed the late president's view that Section 5 represented an unconscionable punishment for the South's past sins. "Congress can impose this disparate treatment forever because of the history in the South?" Roberts asked the government attorney defending the law."

    http://www.motherjones.com/...

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:09:23 PM PST

  •  Talk about activist judges (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DEMonrat ankle biter

    Scalia, in his supreme arrogance and ignorance, charged, skipped the trial, convicted and hung the voting rights act.

    He could look any worse if he picked a booger and wiped on his forehead.

  •  What's Roberts' background...? (0+ / 0-)

    Other than his hijinx during the Reagan era DOJ? Is there any history of racism, white supremacy, etc.?

    •  Nothing overt (5+ / 0-)

      He grew up in Indiana, conservative Catholic, with an excessive fear of both God and change. He's probably not overtly racist, but he's not a person who grew up around people not like himself, and he's certainly not someone to seek out such experiences.  He likes and needs a structured framework for his universe, his life, his morality - and while he has an agile brain and is intelligent enough, he's not a man to look out into the night sky and question any sort of belief.

      We had a former prosecutor recently join a legal program overseas as a volunteer. She didn't work out. She was unable to adapt to a different culture, and generally lacked the ability to see things through the eyes of another. In a very nice and polite way, she tended to impute stupidity or ignorance to anyone who didn't see things within her theoretical framework. There was a right way to do everything, and a wrong way, and preserving those bright lines was emotionally important.  I see the same rigidity in Roberts.  

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The "punishment" language (0+ / 0-)

    Scalia and Alito have both invoked the language employed by lawyers for Title Five states -- that oversight is a "punishment." This is absurd on its face, and it is a lie.

    Being fair is a punishment?

    Bringing the case means that the case cannot have merit, since a voting area that truly is fair and without structural unfairness and disenfranchisement feels no burden, financial or moral, in having to abide by a simple legal yardstick of non-discrimination. In saying that Alabama feels affronted at having to be fair to all of its citizens, the solicitors are confessing that the state they prefer and wish is unfair.

    It's the same as "affirmative action" hiring. Only those who discriminate find it to be a case where, "I had to hire one of them." The truth is that there are qualified candidates who were being turned away by being "them," else you wouldn't be subjected to an affirmative plan, and the fact that you think about "them" and "getting one" shows clearly that you believe in ethnicities as inherently less and inherently more virtuous.

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:43:01 PM PST

  •  Alito Is Just Mooning The Country, Nothing More (0+ / 0-)

    If they were going to strike down the voting rights act, Alito would be savoring the years of rancor he was about to touch off. Now he's just showing his ass because he knows this is his only chance to enjoy it.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:01:42 PM PST

  •  It has to be all 50 states, for good reason (0+ / 0-)

    Jonah Roberts isn't going to rule for all 50 states because it makes it harder to enforce by stretching resources too thin, but because it is equal enforcement.

    There is nothing in the Constitution that says one state can be singled out and be punished singly or as part of a minority. But the federal government can always trump state law. Roberts isn't going to take that power away from the Feds.

    So I think he's stuck. The federal power to ore approve election law changes applies to all states.

    •  The Fifteenth Amendment (0+ / 0-)

      says Congress has power to enforce constitutional provisions saying voting shall not be abridged on account of race.

      Surely it is within Congress's power to say that certain states had proven, through their century-long history of shenanigans designed to disenfranchise African American voters, that they couldn't be trusted to obey the Constitution on their own. Preclearance of voting changes with DOJ is the LEAST those m/f should be required to do.

      Congress can pass any law within the Constitution. There's no provision saying a state can't be "singled out." If one state is denying rights and another isn't, so be it.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:45:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except other states ARE denying rights (0+ / 0-)

        Look at what's happening in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan.  All of those states are trying do disenfranchise poor and minority voters.  Don't the voters in those states deserve equal protection?

        Election law changes for all 50 states should require preclearance.  If one state isn't trying to steal the vote, then that state's laws won't be challanged.  But if the law only looks at a few states and not all the others, doesn't that give free reign to OH, PA, WI and MI to steal the vote?

        Make them all get preclearance.  Or you will wake up one morning with a teabagger president courtesy of vote stealing in the north instead of the south.

        What is it that you think you're advocating?

        •  I agree with you, but (0+ / 0-)

          that is not what's before the Court. The case is about whether the current Section 5 is constitutional. And it clearly is.

          I'll ask you: What is it you think you're advocating? If (when, appearently) this Court strikes it down, voting problems in the other states won't be fixed. Rather, the states covered by Section 5 will be free to go back to their old tricks.

          There's not a chance in hell Section 5 will be extended nationwide right now. Nobody in Congress is proposing it. If someone did, the GOP House would never go for it, the GOP Senators would filibuster it, and the conservadems would say it's too much. Nobody wants to pay for all that oversight. All sensible economics to the contrary, they're falling all over themselves to cut federal spending in a near-depression.

          We surely need to address what's going on in MI, PA, OH, etc., but Section 5 isn't the way.

          Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 12:17:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have a fix (0+ / 0-)

    All states must pre-clear any changes to voting.  In fact, national elections should be regulated under one uniforms set of standards.  No more bullshit on voter ids, proportional electoral votes, cut backs on early voting.  One set of standards that make it easy for every citizen to register and vote.  Otherwise we are no better than a banana republic, a farce, a sad joke of a democracy.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:11:28 PM PST

  •  Here's an idea: Expand VRA to cover all states (0+ / 0-)

    I acknowledge that the VRA was a landmark piece of legislation specifically intended to provide ballot access to historically disadvantaged groups in the US south (read: African-Americans). However, we live in a time when equally pernicious forms of voter suppression are being imposed by republican legislatures across the country that have essentially the same outcome: disenfranchisement of certain voting blocks.

    I fail to see a distinction between state practices that make participation in the electoral process in southern states and similar efforts (voter ID, restricted polling times and stations, gerrymandered congressional districts that defy explanations beyond obvious political chicanery, etc) taking place in Michigan, Indiana, and my own state of Wisconsin.

    It won't come to pass, of course, but it seems plain to me that many of the recent enactments by states that limit the ability of citizens across the demographic spectrum to use the ballot box to express their political preferences are equally as odious as the Jim Crow laws that the VRA was intended to correct and should be addressed at the federal level, as well.

    "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important." Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Arabiflora on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 08:31:14 PM PST

  •  Scalia should've showed up wearing... (0+ / 0-)

    White Robes.

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