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Old 06-25-2013, 08:22 PM   #1
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Voting Rights Act Dismantled?

So what do you guys think?

My big question is what is the substance of the case Shelby County vs Holden? That would help me a lot in deciding how I feel about a ruling that sounds technically reasonable, but the possible consequences of which seem suspiciously useful to the Republican party.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:13 PM   #2
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So what do you guys think?

My big question is what is the substance of the case Shelby County vs Holden? That would help me a lot in deciding how I feel about a ruling that sounds technically reasonable, but the possible consequences of which seem suspiciously useful to the Republican party.
The 1965 law required nine Southern states to seek federal approval of any changes to their election laws (other states are free to change their election laws without said federal approval). The nine states were singled out based on their respective discriminatory practices. The problem: this was true 40+ years ago, but the law still applied today despite any elimination of those discriminatory practices.

The Supreme Court, in essence, told Congress to update the Act and re-evaluate whether specific states should be subject to separate federal scrutiny.

The political alarms will sound as this will be portrayed as an open door to prevent minorities from voting. If you believe showing an valid ID is an impermissible roadblock to an individual voting, the alarmist voices will resonate with you.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:15 PM   #3
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So if I understand this correctly, the ruling was based mostly on the fact that the original law only stated certain states(which makes me think: poorly written law) and that made it unconstitutional.

But why wouldn't, or shouldn't the federal government be a checks and balances when it comes to voting? Technically speaking voting, even just on a state level effects the entire country.

Has the south changed since the 60's, absolutely, but has it changed as much as we'd like? No. Are laws and redistricting still being influenced by race and assumptions that certain races vote certain ways? YEP
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by nbcrusader View Post

The Supreme Court, in essence, told Congress to update the Act and re-evaluate whether specific states should be subject to separate federal scrutiny.
I do hope its an update rather than a thrown out the window approach that our Congress takes.

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If you believe showing an valid ID is an impermissible roadblock to an individual voting, the alarmist voices will resonate with you.
I've never liked this framing, nor do I like the "it oppresses minorities" framing. The truth is that it effects the poor and elderly, and within that truth it probably effects more minorities.

Maybe instead we should look at our valid ID policies?
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by nbcrusader View Post

The 1965 law required nine Southern states to seek federal approval of any changes to their election laws (other states are free to change their election laws without said federal approval). The nine states were singled out based on their respective discriminatory practices. The problem: this was true 40+ years ago, but the law still applied today despite any elimination of those discriminatory practices.

The Supreme Court, in essence, told Congress to update the Act and re-evaluate whether specific states should be subject to separate federal scrutiny.

The political alarms will sound as this will be portrayed as an open door to prevent minorities from voting. If you believe showing an valid ID is an impermissible roadblock to an individual voting, the alarmist voices will resonate with you.


1) Nice to see you back!

2) The law is perhaps outdated, but given the recent shenanigans aimed exactly at preventing minorities from voting, I'm not sure some of those who pursued said shenanigans wouldn't see this as anything but an opportunity to push further.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by nbcrusader View Post
The 1965 law required nine Southern states to seek federal approval of any changes to their election laws (other states are free to change their election laws without said federal approval). The nine states were singled out based on their respective discriminatory practices. The problem: this was true 40+ years ago, but the law still applied today despite any elimination of those discriminatory practices.

The Supreme Court, in essence, told Congress to update the Act and re-evaluate whether specific states should be subject to separate federal scrutiny.

The political alarms will sound as this will be portrayed as an open door to prevent minorities from voting. If you believe showing an valid ID is an impermissible roadblock to an individual voting, the alarmist voices will resonate with you.

I guess I was getting at what motivated Shelby County to file the lawsuit in the first place. Were they looking to make changes to their voting regs and didn't want to be bothered any more with having to go through the whole pre-clearance thing since discrimination was no longer a pertinent issue in that county? For example, if I were to discover that the Shelby County voter registration board or whatever was composed of 2/3 African Americans now and the chair of the board (or whatever, I don't know the exact terms) who is also black was tired of having to jump through these unnecessary hoops then I might be more inclined to see today's SCOTUS ruling as the common-sense decision the majority is presenting it as.

I don't know that I buy that this is necessarily an open door to prevent minorities from voting, but I do doubt that any new updated regulations will be forthcoming from this Congress (or any other in the near future). I don't believe that showing a valid ID is an impermissable roadblock to individual voting. I do, however, distrust any efforts that might have the result of depressing a certain voter turnout, particularly a depressed turnout that might advantage one party over another.
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:44 PM   #7
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The law is perhaps outdated, but given the recent shenanigans aimed exactly at preventing minorities from voting, I'm not sure some of those who pursued said shenanigans wouldn't see this as anything but an opportunity to push further.
What racially motivated shenanigans? Are there new poll taxes or IQ tests?
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:26 AM   #8
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I don't believe for a second that the Court is naive enough to not know they're gutting the law entirely by punting it to Congress.
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:39 AM   #9
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What racially motivated shenanigans? Are there new poll taxes or IQ tests?
Racial gerrymandering.

Redistricting Criteria: The Voting Rights Act - Public Mapping Project
I scanned this link - so maybe it's not perfect but I think it covers some of it.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:28 AM   #10
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I am not a lawyer.

But the court's logic, from what I've read, appears totally appalling.

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The key issue in Shelby County v. Holder is the "preclearance" provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Section 4 of the VRA "covers" numerous jurisdictions—predominantly but not exclusively Southern—with a history of vote discrimination and Section 5 of the VRA requires the covered jurisdictions to get approval from the federal government before changing their voting laws. We should start with the explicit constitutional authority for this legislation. The majority opinion asserts that "the Framers of the Constitution intended the States to keep for themselves, as provided in the Tenth Amendment, the power to regulate elections." The problem, of course, is that the balance the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution of 1787 and 1789 established between the federal government and the states in supervising voting has been rendered obsolete by the Civil War Amendments. Section 2 of the 15th Amendment states that "[t]he Congress shall have power to enforce [the 15th Amendment's prohibition of racial discrimination in voting] by appropriate legislation." There is no question about Congress's authority to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. Legislation directed to this end does not interfere with any state "sovereignty" protected by the Constitution, and Congress should be given broad discretion to act.

Nevertheless, Chief Justice Roberts (speaking for the Court's four other Republican appointees) held a crucial provision of the VRA unconstitutional. The majority did not strike down Section 5, but it did strike down Section 4—in other words, maintaining the "preclearance" provision but as of now not applying it to any states. According to Roberts, times have changed, and therefore Congress's authority has changed as well. (Remarkably, Section II A of Roberts's opinion, laying out a theory of state sovereignty on voting that justifies his palpable disrespect for Congress, does not mention the 15th Amendment at all.) "Congress," the majority says, "did not use the record it compiled to shape a coverage formula grounded in current conditions. It instead reenacted a formula based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relation to the present day." If Congress does not continually update Section 4, it cannot apply the preclearance provision, because patterns of discrimination have changed.

The problems with this argument are manifest. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg argues in the latest of her brilliant dissents, the Court perversely uses the success of the Voting Rights Act as an argument against it. As she observes, "throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet." The extensive history of states creatively nullifying the 15th Amendment provided a strong justification for preclearance, and the effectiveness of the provision shows that Congress was justified. To the majority, this very effectiveness makes the legislation "inappropriate." To restate this argument is to refute it. Section 4 may not represent the states that Chief Justice Roberts believes should be covered by it and it would not represent my list either, but this isn't the issue. To be constitutional, legislation enforcing the 15th Amendment needn't be "ideal," it need only be "appropriate." Section 4 continues to pass this test easily, and there is no legitimate warrant for the Supreme Court to usurp the authority of Congress in this case.
Two points to pull out here:

1) Congress in 2006 passed an update to the bill by votes of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House deciding that Section 4's criteria was the right way to handle racial discrimination in voting. And given Roberts' failure to coherently establish any constitutional violation, this is totally within legislators' rights to calibrate exactly what kind of policy to pass.

To put it in another context, take intellectual property law: I might think the best policy would be a copyright length of 10 years, but it's wholly within Congress's power to pass a law saying it's 25, 50, or 75. A judge can't throw out the 10 year law on whim of them not feeling its long enough.

2) This goes to nbcrusader's statement:

Quote:
The problem: this was true 40+ years ago, but the law still applied today despite any elimination of those discriminatory practices.
Nope. The essence of VRA "preclearance" started in areas with historical evidence of racial discrimination, and it persists *only so long as there have been successful lawsuits establishing racial discrimination in the last 10 years*. Besides the fact that the whole VRA law needs to be renewed, there are multiple New England jurisdictions that have gotten off the preclearance lists by….not being racist anymore. This is absolutely not a case of states being identified as discriminatory in the 1960s and then being trapped by that designation forever more.

Quote:
I don't believe for a second that the Court is naive enough to not know they're gutting the law entirely by punting it to Congress.
From the same article:

Quote:
And, secondly, beware the bait-and-switch. Even in the unlikely event that Congress can pass a new version of Section 4, it will be enormously difficult to meet the arbitrary standards that a Supreme Court consistently hostile to federal intervention to protect basic rights has laid out. If a new Section 4 covers too few jurisdictions, it can be held to illegally discriminate against some states (as the Court did today.) If Congress creates a national preclearance requirement, however, it is virtually certain that the Republican-appointed majority of the Court would hold that this remedy was not "congruent and proportional," as it held when Congress tried to protect victims of gender-based violence under its authority to enforce the 14th Amendment. It is nearly impossible to satisfy the demands of a Court that takes equality between the states much more seriously than the equal rights of American citizens.
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