Yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing on the Voting Rights Act reminds us that although we have come far in this country, our battle to perfect our union is a constant struggle. The Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson and requires states with a history of racial discrimination to seek the approval of the Federal government before making changes to its election laws and procedures. Now the conservative majority appears ready to strike the law.
Justice Scalia stated, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes."“This is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress," he adds.
First, I don’t understand how protecting the right of minorities amounts to a “racial entitlement.” If he means that minorities are entitled to have their votes counted, then I guess he is correct.We are entitled to be protected against laws that make it harder or more difficult for certain populations to vote. I would like to point Justice Scalia (or anyone who believes this entitlement argument) to the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment provides that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Voting Rights Act has been the most effective tool in preventing states from abridging the right of minorities to vote. The Justices acknowledge the law has worked, so why do they want to overturn it?
Second, the remarks by Justice Scalia demonstrate exactly what I thought conservatives despised - an “activist judge.” Though the law was recently reauthorized in 2006 with nearly universal support in Congress, Scalia feels it is the Court’s role to intervene because it is a “racial entitlement.”
Third, overturning the Voting Rights Act would open the floodgates to more voter suppression laws and legal challenges. In essence, Scalia, and possibly a majority of the conservative court, do not really believe in protecting the rights of minorities, consumers, or anyone for that matter. If the Court overturns the Voting Rights Act, remember that moment so you can fully understand why it matters who is elected President in this country. I want a progressive President who understands the need to appoint justices that will seek to expand the freedom of our citizens, not limit them.