Time to Dump the Voting Rights Act

In advance of Wednesday’s Supreme Court argument on the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder), I wanted to add my own comments to John Yoo’s thoughtful post below. As John notes, Section 5 of the Act requires some states and local governments to seek pre-clearance from the federal government before making any changes to their election laws, from the location and hours of polling places to the drawing of electoral districts. 

This is an extraordinary violation of state sovereignty, originally upheld as a temporary exercise of federal power under exceptional circumstances — i.e., persistent attempts by certain states to disenfranchise blacks. But the data by which certain localities were covered by the VRA hasn’t been updated since 1975. So why is the VRA still alive in 2013? Each administration finds something useful in it. The Obama Administration has, for example, used  Section 5 to fight against voter ID laws. 

The exceptional circumstances that prompted the VRA are long gone, but the federal power grab remains — and is being used mainly for ill. Under section 5, the federal government can reject any proposed change in state or local law if Uncle Sam thinks that the changes will “diminish the ability of minority citizens . . . to elect their preferred candidates of choice.”

What does that mean — the “preferred” candidate of minority voters? In practice it means that the federal government assumes (1) that minorities vote as a bloc; (2) they invariably prefer candidates of their own ethnic group; and (3) that candidates from those minority groups will never win elections without the help of the federal government.

Hard to imagine a more condescending — and racist — basis upon which to build a federal law. So racist, in fact, that the unconstitutionality of the VRA should be a slam-dunk.  The creation of these separate-but-equal minority electoral districts in certain states for certain ethnicities is the very essence of the racial classifications prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause. 

  1. Tuck

    “Hard to imagine a more condescending — and racist — basis upon which to build a federal law.”

    Indeed.  What’s ironic is that it appears the institutional bigotry of the Democratic party never changed.  They just determined that in order to stay in power they would have to stop discriminating against, and start discriminating for.

    You have to admire that sort of pragmatism…

  2. Vance Richards

    “You’re a racist! You support Jim Crow.”

    Sure, from a legal standpoint it makes sense, but you know what they are going to say.

  3. Mike LaRoche

    Don’t expect any help from the linguini-spined GOP in getting rid of this godforsaken law.

  4. concerned citizen
    Vance Richards: “You’re a racist! You support Jim Crow.”

    Sure, from a legal standpoint it makes sense, but you know what they are going to say. · 4 hours ago

    This is one of the things that make me despair.

    The actual facts of the case do not matter.  Only the headlines and soundbites.  For years the Left has worked relentlessly to poison the minds of low-information voters against our side.

    Then when an issue like this arises, they put out the headlines and the accusations, and these dumbed-down voters will immediately jump to the worst conclusion about our side’s motives.  Hatred of gays.  Racism.  Jim Crow.  War on women.   Y’all back in chains.  Etc.  

    And no amount of factual arguments will ever get them to change their minds.  I really don’t see how we can ever fix this.  Like I say, despair.

  5. Dave Roy

    It’s really sad that Concerned Citizen is right above. People in general have lost the ability to think critically and absorb information to help educate themselves.

    Instead, they’ll buy the lies, the headlines (without reading the article that might, but likely won’t, actually explain the issue), and the claims by the other side.

    I actually did a post on this on my blog a while back. For some reason, people claim they don’t trust the media, but then they buy hook, line, and sinker what the media actually tells them.

    It’s unreal.

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