The Supreme Court’s conservative Justices struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act earlier this morning. The VRA, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a landmark civil rights act enacted in 1965 that used the powers of the Federal government to enforce a strict anti-discrimination policy in terms of who can or can’t vote. After the VRA was signed into law it was illegal to deny someone their voice in our republic based on the color of their skin.
Article 4 in particular is about a formula used to determine which districts with a history of racially-charged election violations have to submit to extra scrutiny. Section 5 states that certain districts — determined by the formula in question — have to submit any changes to their voting regulations and get approval from the Federal Election Committee before instituting those changes. Conservative justices today ruled 5-4 that the formula is now not adequate to determine who deserves extra scrutiny so it’s up to Congress — the same group of feckless morons who can’t get a jobs bill passed, an immigration reform bill passed, or even gun laws that 90% of Americans want passed — to re-jigger the formula and put the VRA back on its feet.
So why did the conservatives on the court strike down Section 4? Here are my four best guesses.
#4. Congress Isn’t Dysfunctional
Who cares that for the last three years all Congress has done is bicker and fight over one thing after another? Who cares that the only work House Republicans have been doing is to undo forty years of female reproductive rights and symbolically repealing Obamacare? Who cares if the only thing the GOP cares about is finding some scandal somewhere they can impeach the President for? None of that matters, because apparently five old dudes think Congress can put all that craziness aside and compromise on what they think a fair formula for Section 4 would be, all the while knowing that half of them think the Voting Rights Act is an obstacle to their party’s success…and it isn’t the Democrats.
#3. Republicans Didn’t Try To Steal Elections All Over the Place Last Year
Apparently part of being a conservative Supreme Court Justice is putting yourself in a heavy, heroin-fueled coma every night. That’s the only explanation I have for them ignoring the fact that just last year Republicans in the states were trying to enact voter ID laws that are nothing more than sneaky attempts at disenfranchisement. There was Pennsylvania and Ohio with their voter ID laws, and then there was Rick Scott dicking around with early voting hours in Florida, creating nightmarish scenes of people waiting several hours to vote. The truth is that Section 4 needs to be expanded if anything, not restricted.
#2. We Cured Racism!
It shouldn’t really be that much a surprise that justices who were appointed by presidents who represent a party that is completely disconnected from reality would render a decision that so completely ignores reality. It’s as if Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy truly believe that racism is a thing of the past. Of course, outside of Thomas, it’s not like any of them would have any clue what racism really looked like. Racism is a silent bastard these days. Oh, there are certainly people out there who wear their racism on their sleeves, of course, but for the most part racism has just gone into the shadows. It’s certainly not gone though; it’s certainly not even been wiped out from government. Any law that seeks to make it harder for minorities to vote is an attempt to continue to do the very things that the VRA was written to stop.
#1. They’re Idiots
I know, this is probably not much more than an ad hominem, but I truly can’t think of a better explanation for their decision than this. Only idiots would look at the political climate of today, the election and all the chicanery surrounding it last year, and rule that Section 4 is outdated. Clearly there’s a need to expand it, clearly there’s a need to reinforce within the states that they cannot attempt to swing elections in the direction they desire by robbing people of their voice in our society. Voting is the absolutely most important and sacred act you can perform in a system of governance such as we have, and there are still forces at work that value their party being in power over the principles of equality that our country was founded on.
The VRA suffered an incredible blow today, and anyone telling you otherwise is being extremely myopic, or they agree with disenfranchising people for the sake of electoral victory. With Congress being the massive pile of failure that it is, it will be a cold, dark day in Hell before the VRA is restored to its former strength and meaningfulness.