February 27, 2013

"Supreme Court Weighs Future Of Voting Rights Act."

Nina Totenberg reports on the case that is up for oral argument this morning.
The provision at issue in Wednesday's case applies only to specific parts of the country where discriminatory voting procedures were once rampant. It covers all of nine states, mainly in the South, plus parts of seven other states. To head off discriminatory voting procedures before they happen, the law requires covered areas to get approval from federal officials before changes can take place. So, for example, if an Alabama town wants to change polling places, or to change from an elected board to an appointed board, or to annex another part of the county, it has to first get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Congress came up with the formula in 1965 to cover areas of the country that had a history of blatant, even violent, discrimination in voting; but the formula has not been changed since 1975, and it still relies on election data from 1972. That's the crux of the issue before the court now: Whether times have changed so much that Congress, in reauthorizing the law in 2006 without updating the formula, violated the Constitution.
The congressional vote in 2006 was overwhelmingly and astonishingly bipartisan, with the Senate voting unanimously to extend the law and the House voting 390-to-33.
Are you so easily astonished? Politically, it's hard to vote against this law, with its dramatic historic momentum. But the Court needs to address problem of treating some states differently from others, relying on a formula that uses statistics from 1972.
Under the law, any jurisdiction with a clean record for 10 years could bail out, and some have done just that. There is also a provision to bail in jurisdictions that can be shown in court to have consistently misbehaved. But basically the law was unchanged — all the areas that had been subject to preclearance before 2006 still were — and Congress simply extended it for another 25 years.

49 comments:

CEO-MMP said...

Does it matter that not only are some states are treated differently, but they could be treated differently depending on who's running Justice when they go for permission?

Big Mike said...

For Nina, for Maxine Waters, for Eric Holder, for all liberals everywhere, now and forever it's always the 1950's.

Darrell said...

For Nina, for Maxine Waters, for Eric Holder, for all liberals everywhere, now and forever it's always the 1850's.

Darrell said...

Modify the law so that Democrats are hit hard for their current practices and you'll see it disappear faster than the passenger pigeon.

Erika said...

It's astonishing to me that anyone can claim with a straight face that this is OK. If only we down in the South could be as racially enlightened as, say, Chicago.

Dante said...

I've been chatting with some friends about "How to get a good voting signal." We've seen recently arguments against voter ID laws, because an individual's vote may fail.

But, the question as to whether the overall voter signal is improved is not addressed by the press.

It seems to me there ought to be some independent organization that seeks to improve the signal. That is, to determine whether or not the vote adequately reflects the desires of lawful voters. And secondly, to ensure that those who wish to vote have adequate access. I would place this later lower in the list, simply because a uniform discrimination against voters does not necessarily put a party at disadvantage. Whereas, those who would commit voter fraud have strong reasons to do so, probably against the electorate's wishes.

I do not like to leave this up to the politicians, or the press. And probably not even the courts.

The answer? Who knows. It seems it could be relatively simple to put in place some simple ideas. For instance, one idea a friend of mine had was to add many "invalid" voters to the roles, as a honey pot to catch voter fraud for those who would attempt to steal those votes. I fail to see anything unethical about this.

Another option would be to validate some percentage of the voters to make certain they voted. I also see this as perfectly ethical.

However, so long as the idea is to win, who knows what's going on. I say, the important thing is to first make sure there is a good, pure voting signal. Then we can worry about the disenfranchised.

Surfed said...

The Federal Government has sclerosis and a stroke is nigh. To borrow a phrase from Glenn Reynolds - Faster please.

traditionalguy said...

Incumbents love their racially gerrymandered safe districts that prevent any need to represent mixed race districts with policies that benefit everyone.

The result in cities has been center city fiefdoms for the Jessie Jackson types surrounded by suburban perimeters represented by conservatives.

bpm4532 said...

It seems the liberal mind-set it locked into 1972.

Phil 3:14 said...

Its the old "sins of the father" argument.

machine said...

"...where discriminatory voting procedures were once rampant."


What do you mean "were"...

Darrell said...

machine's benchmark is that everyone elected is Left-of-center. To start with. . .

Hagar said...

Eric Holder is determined not to rest until every last lunch counter in the South has been integrated.

EDH said...

Please don't use Nina Totenberg and the word "oral" in the same sentence again.

Quayle said...

Once obtained, I find it best to keep your boot on someone's neck, just in case they act up later (or you need something from them.)

sinz52 said...

Bull Connor passed away 40 years ago.

It's long past time to stop treating the South as some kind of occupied country, forced to ask permission from Washington DC as to how to run its elections.

Want to keep those provisions? Then make them apply to the entire country, not just to the South. There have been plenty of racial problems in Michigan, New York and Massachusetts too.

Darrell said...

Para-military uniforms and clubs in hand?

Approved by machine.

Vote totals exceeding 100% of registered voters, with all votes going for Obama?

Yup. Approved by machine.

machine said...

the dutcher is not a source of actual information...

Ann Althouse said...

"Want to keep those provisions? Then make them apply to the entire country, not just to the South. There have been plenty of racial problems in Michigan, New York and Massachusetts too."

New York is one of the covered states. From the NYT article on the case:

"In 1975, Congress extended the law for seven years. It also expanded it to cover discrimination against members of 'language minority groups' in places that used only English-language ballots even though substantial numbers of people spoke another language. The extension relied on data from 1972. The new formula meant that all of Alaska, Arizona and Texas were covered, along with parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota."

Colonel Angus said...

Well with several states demanding drivers licenses for illegal aliens, it won't be too hard after that to get them on the voter rolls.

edutcher said...

Have to go along with tg, the mandated all-black urban districts is what SCOTUS should go after.

machine said...

...where discriminatory voting procedures were once rampant.

What do you mean "were"...


As always the mindless automaton proudly displays his ignorance.

There's probably more racially-based vote fraud in the big Northern cities than anywhere in the south.

Unless said mindless automaton has any proof other than the ravings on Kos.

the dutcher is not a source of actual information...

Wanna bet?

In fact, if you google "obama 100%", you get "obama 100% vote", returning about 36 million articles.

Colonel Angus said...

"In 1975, Congress extended the law for seven years. It also expanded it to cover discrimination against members of 'language minority groups' in places that used only English-language ballots even though substantial numbers of people spoke another language.

Therein lies another problem. The main aspect of assimilating into ones adopted country is learning the language. Liberals on the other hand bend over backwards to not only accomodate immigrants to maintain their native tongue as primary, but demand enactments to ensure it stays that way. It's as if they want balkanization rather than unity.

But then when your overriding ideology is based off hatred for the United States, its not difficult to understand.

Rusty said...

Motorvoter!

Hagar said...

Do the upper tier of states ("Little Norway") provide ballots in Scandihoovian?

Darrell said...

It's not enough to vote for Dear Leader Obama, you have to love him. SCOTUS understands this.

Next, you will love Michelle. How could you not?

Darrell said...

Motorvoter!

And now that DHS is confiscating boats, next up Boatervoter!

Astro said...

How about Philadephia, where (according to a report I saw) the Black Panthers were 'patrolling' some polling places, intimidating some citizens (i.e., white folks) to keep them from voting?
True or just an urban legend?

I Callahan said...

What do you mean "were"...

They're not now. And you know it.

mccullough said...

The extension of this part of the voting rights act was a joke. It's going to be struck down, as it should. It's well past the time that the civil rights industry needs to wind down. Time to go out and work like the rest of us.

SGT Ted said...

It is time to get rid of the VRA, as it has devolved into a racist racket that is only enforced against white people.

SGT Ted said...

Punishing people for the sins of their grandfathers is very Biblical.

Why do people like machine want race based Theocracy from Government?

And, if we're to get real about this "sins of the grandfathers" thing about past racism, Democrats should have to prove everytime an election is held, in open court, that they aren't racists.

Unknown said...

I remember when the bill was up for vote in 2006. I got a number of emails from liberal (although not very intelligent, although that goes without saying) friends encouraging me to contact my representatives and urge them to pass the bill.

It seems that unless the bill were passed, blacks would lose the right to vote.

garage mahal said...

Scalia said today that Section 5 of Voting Rights Act represented the "perpetuation of racial entitlement."

Good God. This is one of the right's leading thinkers?

The Godfather said...

I'm confused. Prof. Althouse tells us that a state or part of a state is covered by this law if it didn't provide ballots in Spanish. But I thought you had to show that you could speak and read English to become a citizen. Has that changed?

The Godfather said...

I'm confused. Prof. Althouse tells us that a state or part of a state is covered by this law if it didn't provide ballots in Spanish. But I thought you had to show that you could speak and read English to become a citizen. Has that changed?

Hagar said...

"The Black vote" is essential to the Democrat Party for winning elections.
For the octogenarians running the Congressional Black Caucus, the civil rights movement of the 1960's is the biggest thing that ever happened to them (and indeed, it was a big thing), they won't let go of it, and the Democrat Party leadership then naturally panders to that sentiment.

Darrell said...

Given that the Left is providing this snippet, wat are the odds that it is not out of context, that Scalia said so much more?

Darrell said...

But I thought you had to show that you could speak and read English to become a citizen. Has that changed?

Yes. Part of some agreement with the Democrats that the Republicans had to sign on to in order to get something else passed during Bush II.

Hagar said...

@Godfather,
Not yet, but, like the immigration act itself, that is a hangover from the old days, and they are working hard to get rid of this remnant of rank discrimination.

Darrell said...

President George H.W. Bush created "diversity visas," massively increased legal immigration and eliminated the English requirement on the naturalization test. In the 1992 election, he won 25 percent of the Hispanic vote -- less than what Romney got.

From Ann Coulter. It was Bush I, not II. Sorry.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Manboobs Mahal says:

"Good God. This is one of the right's leading thinkers?"


I'm sorry fatty, that some concepts go over the pudgy head of those who were too stupid to make it past high school.

Why don't you enlighten us all with some of that 12th grade "leading thought"?

tesseractive said...

traditionalguy,

> The result in cities has been center city fiefdoms for the Jessie Jackson types surrounded by suburban perimeters represented by conservatives.

Actually, suburbs are no longer Republican strongholds. Suburbs tend to be mixed enough that whole metro areas skew significantly toward Democrats. It's the rural areas that skew heavily Republican.

Bill Beeman said...

And some counties are caught in this without a history of rights violations; Yuba County, California is covered simply because in the early '70s we were accused of having low voter registration.

The problem was that out of a voting age population of about 28,000, almost 5,000 were military, stationed at Beal AFB, most of whom maintained their voting registration at their permanent location.

We pay the costs of this to this day; major expense when necessary to move a polling place, and many other things. And the 'opt-out' provisions are totally effective under the Holder/Obama justice department.

mccullough said...

Cutting back the Voting Rights Section at the DOJ is a good way to save money. Also, cut the Athletes On Steroids Section.

tesseractive said...

edutcher,

> Have to go along with tg, the mandated all-black urban districts is what SCOTUS should go after.

I don't disagree, but keep in mind that it's often been Republicans who created these districts. Traditionally, when Democrats redistricted, they preferred broader districts with a mix of urban, suburban, and rural voters, where candidates need to be able to appeal to both urban minority voters and white voters -- which was traditionally a formula for electing white Democrats. This also had the advantage (to Democrats) of creating many districts with a significant chunk of urban voters instead of only a few districts with overwhelming numbers of urban voters, thereby increasing the number of winnable seats.

This is one of the key ways that Democrats were able to hang onto so many Congressional seats in the South for so long after most white southerners had become Republicans.

Particularly blatant district maps like this were sometimes overturned by judges under the Voting Rights Act, because it led to fewer black-majority districts that sent black representatives to Congress.

All part of the sordid history of both parties using race to whatever electoral advantage they can get.

garage mahal said...

I'm sorry fatty, that some concepts go over the pudgy head of those who were too stupid to make it past high school.

Actually it's really simple to understand, simple enough that even a stunningly stupid person like you could understand.

Darrell said...

Justice Antonin Scalia argued that Congress could not be trusted to properly evaluate the current need for Section 5. He said the repeated reauthorizations of the law seemed to be an example of “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

Lawmakers are too afraid to vote against something called the Voting Rights Act, he said, and will keep applying rules that have outlived their utility.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seized on Scalia’s comments, asking the lawyer arguing against the Voting Rights Act, “Do you think Section 5 was voted for because it was a racial entitlement” and “Do you think racial discrimination has ended?”

But the court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, also seemed skeptical of Section 5, questioning whether a law that was clearly needed in the 1960s should still be on the books today.

“The Marshall Plan was very good, too — the Northwest Ordinance, the Morrill Act — but times change,” Kennedy said.



Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/285237-supreme-court-justices-hint-at-striking-down-voting-righst-act-provision#ixzz2M7mmINU4

The Godfather said...

According to the federal government's US Citizenship and Immigration Services (which ought to know), see http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.749cabd81f5ffc8fba713d10526e0aa0/?vgnextoid=5efcebb7d4ff8210VgnVCM10000025e6a00aRCRD&vgnextchannel=5efcebb7d4ff8210VgnVCM10000025e6a00aRCRD
"During your naturalization interview, a USCIS Officer will ask you questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking."

Darrell said...

During Clinton's time, they farmed out the testing to private companies. ABC had a program where one of their Hispanic/American reporters posed as an immigrant and went through the test. The people with the private company gave everyone the answer sheets for the written part. They let her pass the oral exams--even though she kept saying--in Spanish--that she doesn't understand. They got paid more for "successes" than "failures." The Administration responded that it was just "growing pains"--the result of privatization that they reminded ABC was being championed by Republicans.