Springtime for Katherine Harris
April 30, 2009, 9:48 am
Filed under: Ian | Tags: ,

harrisI think it is self-evidently true that racial justice has made massive strides in the last forty-five years.  Barack Obama is President, after all, and states like Alabama and Mississippi can no longer systematically exclude African-Americans from the polls.  While I have no illusions that some alcoves still exist where white leaders plot to exclude minorities from power simply because they can’t stand minorities, these alcoves are thankfully shrinking, and such white leaders are fast losing their ability to play these kinds of racist games.

The biggest reason why such games are difficult to play is the Voting Rights Act which, among other things, requires a federal judge or the Department of Justice to “pre-clear” any changes to voting procedures in parts of the country that have a history of excluding voters on the basis of race.  White racists who try to exclude minorities as minorities have to justify their decision to do so, and their plans are frequently thwarted by the good folks in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

If early reports from yesterday’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court are accurate, however, that may soon be changing.  Apparently, the five conservative justices are upset that the Voting Rights Act singles out a handful of largely southern states, while allowing states like Michigan and California to escape supervision under the pre-clearance provisions—so they look ready to strike the whole thing down.

For what its worth, their apparent disdain for the Voting Rights Act strikes me as more a symptom of their disrespect for Congress than of their desire to screw minority voters.  There are perfectly good reasons to single out the south for continued supervision—in some parts of the south voting is so polarized that over 90 percent of African-Americans vote Democratic and close to 90% of whites vote Republican—and Congress could quite reasonably have felt that this polarization justifies the VRA.  The Supreme Court, however, thinks it knows better than Congress, so it is perfectly willing to substitute its judgment for that of elected officials when something as important as “states’ rights” is on the line.

But regardless of the Court’s motivation, striking down the VRA’s pre-clearance provisions would be a huge victory for the Katherine Harrises of the world.  While I don’t believe that very many white racists get together to plot out how to keep minorities from voting, I do believe that conservatives frequently plot ways to keep Democrats from voting.  So long as voting remains racially polarized, race makes a nice proxy for political affiliation, so conservative vote-surpressors know that targeting minority communities will give they a whole lot of bang for the buck.  Presently, the VRA keeps the many of these efforts at bay; without the VRA, it’s springtime for Katherine Harris.


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There is one word word to describe this article article and that word is “regressive”. The War Between The States ended in 1865, so let’s move into the 21st century, not recede back into the 19th century

Comment by avenger

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