John Roberts’s Rules of Disorder

Wrong Today

the Wrongologist departs from his policy of not writing on a hot, trending
issue that everyone else is writing millions of words about,  to comment on the Voting Rights Act (VRA). 

Americans need to
remember The Edmund Pettus bridge, a symbol of the fight for change in Alabama and the rest of America. It was there that
voting rights marchers were violently confronted by police on March 7, 1965. The next day, Martin Luther King, Jr.
led 3,200 people out of Selma, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge
to Montgomery. Less than five
months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Things went terribly wrong yesterday when SCOTUS
struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by cleverly striking down Section FOUR instead, saying that
the formula that Congress uses to determine which states are under Section 5
pre-clearance is no longer Constitutional. 


The vote was 5-4. No one should ever again say that politics
is a fool’s errand, or that it doesn’t matter whether a Democrat or a
Republican takes office. There is a
direct line from 2000, when Nader’s 3% of the vote was enough to throw Florida
into chaos and hand the Presidency to George W. Bush. Consider the following:

  • There is a direct line from November
    of 2000 to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. To pretend
    otherwise is to ignore history.
  • And there is a direct line from 2010,
    when the 2008 voters stayed home and handed the House and state governments
    across the nation to a radical Republican fringe.
  • There is also a direct line from
    November 2010 to yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling.

Will you be energized and organized to take on the challenge in
? Will you donate to get out the vote efforts? Will you volunteer
to drive voters to the polls? Will you make calls? Or will you sit at your computer
gnashing your teeth and complaining because the mean nasty Republicans remain mean
and nasty?

Our democracy is only as good as we
make it. Without significant participation, the loudest voices win. We have to
be the loudest voices, voices that make the earth shake.

Anything less, and we deserve what we

what the court did yesterday: They invented a standard to
strike down the preclearance map. A law that has been authorized five times
before, with reams of Congressional findings of fact, is invalid because the
Court suddenly prefers its own facts to those provided by Congress. What’s comical
is that the Roberts opinion spends precious little time on the Constitutional issues
and a whole lot of time developing a made-up standard that never existed before,
in order to strike it down.

Constitutional issue is simple. Nobody had a problem with the VRA before, and
it’s abundantly clear that the 15th Amendment permits such legislation. When
the Supreme Court looks to strike down a law, it must do so only if
there is no way to uphold it. Clearly that is not the case. What changed is
that the conservative majority seized the opportunity to defang it for no other
reason than the fact that they could.

This is the Roberts
majority creating a judicial line item
. They
struck down the coverage formula that had been used by the federal government
to determine which states and counties are subject to continued oversight.
Roberts said that the 1972 formula was outdated and unworkable. The court said
it is now up to congressional lawmakers to revise the law and create a new
formula that will pass constitutional scrutiny. From Chief Justice Roberts:

Our country has changed, and while any
racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the
legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to the current

Chief Justice
Roberts’ opinion is here.  By removing the specific protections of
Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the only protection against massive
predations against minority voters by “states’ rights enthusiasts”
will be a Department of Justice willing to prosecute and defend the general
protections of Section 5. In that context, the political leanings of the
Executive Branch become that much more important. 

You can expect that Republicans
will get right on that new formula thing.  Count out the South from here
on out, folks.  It will be open season on massive gerrymandering because
now, no states, districts, or localities are subject to Section 5 rules. 

From Ginsburg’s dissent:

All told, between 1982 and 2006, DOJ
objections blocked over 700 voting changes based on a determination that the
changes were discriminatory…

top of that, over the same time period the DOJ and private plaintiffs succeeded
in more than 100 actions to enforce the §5 preclearance requirements…

addition to blocking proposed voting changes through preclearance, DOJ may
request more information from a jurisdiction proposing a change. In turn, the
jurisdiction may modify or withdraw the proposed change. The num­ber of such
modifications or withdrawals provides an indication of how many discriminatory
proposals are deterred without need for formal objection. Congress received
evidence that more than 800 proposed changes were altered or withdrawn since
the last reauthorization in 1982.

Assuming Justice
Ginsburg’s research is correct, the jurisdictions covered under Section 5 of
the Voting Rights Act were prevented
from enacting approximately 1600 discriminatory voting laws in the 24 years
between 1982 and the 2006
reauthorization of the Act.

That is 67
discriminatory laws proposed per year, for almost a quarter century.

By Robert’s rule, all
of those laws would have gone into effect and most likely had an impact on
elections before they could be challenged in court, which isn’t good enough.

The only thing that’s history now?  Potentially, the rights of millions of
Americans to vote.

We should mourn for a
few days. Then, we need to fight as if our lives depended on it, because they will.


I agree with you that SCOTUS’ job is strike down a law only if it is unconstitutional. And that there was no need for this decision to be rendered. Beyond that you may be blowing this slightly out of proportion. The DOJ will have no problem prosecuting cases of voter intimidation or fraud that could possibly stem from this decision. Over the last seven years we have seen the DOJ’s relentless pursuit of the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia or the break-up and prosectuion of ACORN and it’s documented voter fraud operations in most mid-west states. Have no fear Wrongologist, the goverernment is on your side and they’re here to help.

Terene McKenna

The court pretended not to understand history or politics. The questions pretended that it was about racism, and suggested that, see the states are equally racist.

The issue is not about racism but about acts. So while Massachussetts residents (many of the Irish like myself) may be as racist as Alabamians, the difference is that their legislature will not not enact measures to hold back the black vote.

Already a frw southern states are taking the wrappers off laws designed to make sure blacks vote is smaller numbers.

But… if you can pretend that corporations are people, you can pretty much pretend anything.

Terry McKennaa

Jim’s irony is poorly placed. Whatever occurred in Philly is just really a local police matter. we have things like that here when alderman park what seems like a campaign bus right in front of the voter station.

Re acorn, sorry, no fraud. collectors of voter registration are obliged to turn in all the cards they get. if someone registers fake names that is a REGISTRATION matter, designed to perhaps allow the registrar to qualify for what is in essence a sales goal. there fake registrations never are used to generate real votes.

voter fraud exists, but it exists via BALLOT tampering, which is wholesale. not at the retail level.
But republicans, in the interest of power, and that alone, have manufactured an excuse to suppress the vote.

in fact, they never liked the “motor voter” law, but lack the political will (and honesty) to try to repeal it.

Jim G

The fact that states are enacting and enforcing laws that require someone to show ID is not racism. What I find disturbing is the fact that today’s liberal society thinks so little of minorities. Do you honestly think that requiring ID is supposed to keep blacks from voting? It is meant to reduce voter fraud. Minorities need to stop playing the racism card. How about a little personal accountability? The Civil Rights movement was over forty years ago. At what point do those that were extended the hand up take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming those around them?

Terry McKenna

Your note pretends that racism stopped immediately and all over. The last time I rented a house, when I showed up without my wife, the owner grilled me to find out if she was black.

And we still have a few all-white proms and such.

I agree the race card is annoying. Also that many minorities can secure documents. Still when we see Ohio limiting early voting (my son was born in Ohio) also see overcrowded voting places in cities, while in suburbs have better, what does that mean?

and be honest.

and by the way, genuine voter fraud is via ballot box/machine, not at the single voter level. so why the pretense?

Jim G

I forgot to consult my conservative conspiracy handbook before I commented. One second please…ahh yes. There it is on page 72. Suppress the vote! If we were so good at that Barry O would not be in office. Please save the Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories for the union league.

Jim g


I would agree that there is a level of inequity from urban to suburban areas. That is about wealth not race. What bothers me is not that one group or another feels that they have been wounded. It’s that while you and I argue about which side has a better argument there are law abiding citizens that have had or will have there right to vote infringed on. The divisiveness in this country is driven by radicals from both the left and right. I lay that on the alter of political correctness. Somewhere over the last 70 years common sense was cast from our shores and people have lost their minds.

To answer your question…no pretense. Overall disgust and disappointment in my fellow man.

Terry McKennaa

You miss the point, the effort to suppress the vote backfired. Still, Republican legislators remain enthusiastic anyway. Can’t figure out why.

By the way, I’ll soon tire of arguing with a boob.

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