Jim Crow 2.0

What’s
Wrong Today
:


As the
Wrongologist pointed out yesterday, Justice
Ginsburg’s dissent in Shelby County vs.
Holder

outlines the Congress’s findings from the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting
Rights Act:


Congress
discovered roughly 1,800 instances between 1982 and 2006 in which areas covered
by Section 4 of the Act were prevented from enacting voting laws that were
discriminatory in nature. That averages out to 67 attempts to discriminate per
year, every year, for 24 straight years.


There are
three sections of the Voting Rights Act that are directly relevant to the
Supreme Court’s ruling:


Section 2
of the Act allows anyone from any jurisdiction to challenge a governmental
entity that attempts to discriminate in the electoral process. This is almost
always done after the fact: Someone was denied the right to vote, or a class of
people had their vote suppressed, or districts were drawn that were
discriminatory in nature and the Feds look into it.


Section 4
defines those areas of the country that have a history and record of racial
discrimination and that must get advanced clearance (the preclearance requirement) under Section 5 in order to
make any changes in their election laws.


The
Supreme Court invalidated the formula that Congress used to craft Section 4,
which means that no jurisdictions are currently subject to Section 5.


If the law
had been the way it is now between 1982 and 2006, all 1,800 violations referenced
above would have had to have been addressed under Section 2, and addressing them would have occurred after
the elections
.


So, will we be looking
at intended consequences or unintended consequences? How rapidly will southern
Republicans move to take advantage of SCOTUS’ decision striking down Section 4
of the Voting Rights Act to restrict who can vote?  You’d think after years of claiming that
Section 4 and Section 5 were unnecessary, southern Republicans would pause a decent interval before proving
the point of voting rights advocates
that prior review of voting
changes in the Deep South remain a necessity.


However, Talking
Points Memo
reports the following:


Within
hours of Tuesday’s decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott declared on Twitter:
“Eric Holder can no longer deny VoterID in Texas.” The Texas Department of
Public Safety announced later in the day that on Thursday it would begin
distributing photo IDs under a 2011 law that Holder’s lawyers had blocked under
Section 5.


In
Mississippi, the Secretary of State said her office would begin enforcing a
pending voter ID law for primaries in June 2014.


North
Carolina Republicans said they plan swift action on a pending voter ID bill.


So the remaining
question is just how blatant the disenfranchisement of blacks, Hispanics, and
college students will become.

Perhaps creating
even the most restrictive voter ID laws will not be enough. The next logical
step (along with discriminatory redistricting) will be to make voting so
physically taxing that minority voters are unable to cast votes, more like what
we saw in 2012.


The Election
of 2010 enabled Republican-controlled statehouses to begin a coordinated
strategy to suppress the votes of blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young –
seen as predominantly Democratic voters – by requiring photo IDs, tightening
eligibility and reducing voting hours.


That plan,
however, ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act, especially in Old Confederacy
states like Texas which were covered by the preclearance requirement of the
law. Using the Act, the Justice Department was able to beat back most of the
attempts to infringe on suffrage – and minorities provided key votes to reelect
President Obama in 2012.


Kerry Kennedy, (RFK’s daughter)
in the NYT
today:


To believe that
Section 4’s formula is a disposable relic from some previous era is to ignore
the reality that greets American minority voters each November: the 12-hour
ballot lines; the poll workers “mistakenly” trained to check photo IDs; the
polling places that mysteriously open two hours late, long after the workday
has started.


She
went on to say that the Voting Rights Act remains:


…one of the
proudest legacies of Robert F. Kennedy’s service to our government, and we must
condemn any act to dissolve this fundamental pillar of our country’s promise
for equality and justice.


The Right’s
current message remains wrapped up in the word “liberty”. But that message includes the “liberty” of white Americans to reign over — and rein in —
non-white Americans.


That
sentiment was at the heart of the Jim Crow laws: Denying citizenship rights to
blacks despite the 14th and 15th amendments; it can be
seen today in the Right’s longstanding refusal to grant congressional voting
rights to District of Columbia residents, most of whom are black and who face
“taxation without representation”; it is reflected in the Right’s obsession
with the conspiracy theory about Obama being born in Kenya; and it fires up
Republican opposition to immigration reform since it would permit some 11
million undocumented immigrants — mostly Hispanic — to eventually gain
citizenship and the right to vote.


Conservatives
and bigots created the original Jim Crow laws, and we’ve already heard cheers from
some Republicans eager to return to a time when the feds didn’t interfere with the
sovereign ability of white southerners to decide who was worthy to vote.


It’s like watching a tape of that
1965 march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma played in reverse
. To that end,
expect to see Republican-controlled state legislatures renew their efforts
to create voter eligibility roadblocks in the form of “Jim Crow 2.0”
laws.


It
is going to be a heavy lift, but things can change, if and ONLY if, Democrats
get off their butts and work very hard in 2014 to win 25+ congressional
districts not currently held by Democratic incumbents.


They
need to work like there is no tomorrow, because otherwise, there may not be one.

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