Friday, July 26, 2013

History and the Voting Rights Act Roundup

NPR Staff, "The Voting Rights Act: Hard-Won Gains, An Uncertain Future," NPR, July 21, 2013

. . . . Congress also noted, however, that the Voting Rights Act was still needed, and it had
Fort Scott, Kansas, Tribune, August 6, 1965, p. 1
From the Google News Archive.
been used hundreds of times since 1982 to protect against discrimination.

But in his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested it is a new era. "Our country has changed," he wrote for the majority.

But Rep. Lewis says race is still very much at the forefront.

"I think there has been a deliberate and systematic effort on the part of certain forces in our country to take the whole idea of race out of public policy," he says. "Race is involved in everything that makes up America, and we cannot escape it. We have to deal with it face on.">>>

John Paul Stevens, "The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent," New York Review of Books, August 15, 2013

In Bending Toward Justice, Professor Gary May describes a number of the conflicts between white supremacists in Alabama and nonviolent civil rights workers that led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—often just called the VRA. The book also describes political developments that influenced President Lyndon Johnson to support the act in 1965, and later events that supported the congressional reenactments of the VRA signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, by President Gerald Ford in 1975, by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and by President George W. Bush in 2006.>>>

"The Future of the Voting Rights Act," On Point, WBUR, June 27, 2013

The Voting Rights Act was the monumental achievement of the civil rights movement, a powerful federal response to racist policies like poll taxes and literacy tests that kept blacks home on Election Day. But that was 1965.

Today southern blacks vote at even higher rates than whites. So this week the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the law, freeing mostly southern states to change their election laws without federal approval. Guests: Vernon Burton, Kareem Crayton, and Ronald Keith Gaddie.>>>

John Fund, "A Civil-Rights Victory," National Review, June 25, 2013

The Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn a small part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is actually a victory for civil rights.  As the court noted, what made sense both in moral and practical terms almost a half century ago has to be approached anew. . . . Clint Bolick, director of litigation for the conservative Goldwater Institute in Arizona, says the demise of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act will also reduce the balkanization of racial gerrymandering that has become so popular lately. “Voting districts drawn on racial or ethnic lines divide Americans,” he says. “This decision helps move us toward the day in which racial gerrymandering becomes a relic of the past.”>>>

"New obstacles for voters," Baltimore Sun, July 22, 2013

If there were any doubt the Supreme Court erred badly in the term just ended by striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act designed to protect minorities' access to the polls in states with a history of voter discrimination, it's been dispelled by the swift reaction in states formerly covered by the law's pre-clearance requirement. Officials there have lost no time in using the ruling as a license to start discriminating again.

Barely two hours after the court declared unconstitutional Section 4 of the act, which determined which states were required to get Justice Department approval before changing election laws in ways that disproportionately affected minority voters, Texas' attorney general announced that a 2011 voter-ID law a lower court had blocked as discriminatory would go into effect "immediately." Over the next week, four more former pre-clearance states moved to tighten restrictions on voting.>>>

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