The section of the Act (Section 4) struck down today basically determined certain states as needing clearance from the Justice Department (or a federal court in Washington) before making any changes to voting procedures, ie; moving a polling place, redrawing electoral districts, or anything else that made it more difficult (or nearly impossible) for minorities to participate in the most basic act of our democracy: voting.
With the loss of Section 4, Section 5, which, I believe, sets out the pre-clearance requirement, lost its teeth since it depended on Section 4. Back in '65, Section 5 was scheduled to expire in five years, the supposition being that by then, those 'certain' states would have progressed enough that it would no longer be needed. However, it turned out five years wasn't nearly enough as Congress repeatedly extended it - first in 1970 (for seven years), then in '77 (again for seven years). In '82, it was extended for a whopping 25 years (guess we weren't progressing at all, eh?) and President Bush renewed it in 2006 - after extensive hearings on the racial discrimination still existing at the polls, with several states constantly attempting anything that would lessen the ability of minorities to vote. It was so rampant, Bush made the extension for another 25 years. He even had the full support of the Senate with a 98 to 0 vote. In the House, it was 390 yes votes and only 33 (Republican) no votes. But today, the five conservative members of the Supreme Court - the majority - voted down Section 4 because it was, as stated by Justice Roberts: "...based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day....". The Court decided to leave the decision regarding States and 'approval' up to Congress. Yep, CONGRESS, as in that group of men and women in the Capitol building; the ones who haven't been able to do anything for the last five years (except continually pass useless laws about abortion and ObamaCare) and thus have an approval rating of 10%? Yeah, them. And the chances that they'll pass anything fair? Nil, zilch, zero. But Roberts says they can do it and told them how: "Congress — if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions. It cannot simply rely on the past.” Get the loophole? He thinks 'today's conditions' are fine - no racial problems in America, no sir. But let's look at the States that are in those sections; the ones needing approval: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia - as well as several counties and municipalities in other states like Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.
See the problem yet? The Conservative Court's thinking, not to mention many Republican lawmakers, is this, "Look guys, minority voting has risen. Look at Mississippi. The registration rate is 76%! Heck, that's 4% higher than WHITES!!" Roberts himself wrote: “African-American voter turnout exceeded white voter turnout in five of the six states originally covered by Section 5" - in other words: "We don't have a racist problem any longer when it comes to voting!" Accept, of course, the reason the numbers have improved is due to Section 4 & 5 of the Act. Hello? Think of it this way: You have a skin condition so your doctor prescribes a medication to control it. It's successful and when you return, he says, "You no longer have the skin condition so no need for the medication!" Hooray! Except...it was the medication that kept your skin condition under control, so naturally, a few weeks later, when the condition returns? Yep, you're back on the medication and you get yourself another doctor. A smarter one.
I fear there are more Americans that any of us would want to admit who find the numbers showing an increase in minority voters; an increase surpassing that of white voters, to be scary. Americans who are consciously or unconsciously truly AFRAID that the white race is becoming the minority - and some of them will do what it takes to reverse what they see as an unholy trend, including citing the improvements as proof that the very laws responsible for the improvements are no longer needed. Unfortunately, we now have proof they are. Less than two hours after Section 4 (and thus 5) was struck down by "Doctor Supreme Court", Texas showed signs of that skin condition in the form of immediately reinstating their Voter ID laws (remember those?) they'd tried to put into law in 2008 and 2010 (in order to defeat a black President - duh) and the redistricting which will make it almost impossible for minorities to vote. And they weren't alone in reinstating restrictive laws. Other States joined right in now that they too were 'skin condition' free. Or to put it more bluntly: they no longer need clearance to do those despicable acts. Ain't change grand?
And what did the so-called 'responsible' Republicans on The Hill have to say in response to the new ruling? Well, good ol' Mitch McConnell stated they supported the Voting Rights Act - but then added a subtle message when he finished with how 'we're a different country today', which is Conservative code for "RIGHT ON, SUPREME COURT and if you think Congress is going to reinstate Section 5 with a new law, you're spitting in the conservative wind! So there!"
Does anyone really think we've changed that much? I get the feeling most 'Liberals' understand that 'certain' States are worse than ever and others are catching that 'skin condition' too, but that saddens me because I don't see much movement to 'be heard', to affect change and protect the rights of minorities based on the understanding that civil rights is an ongoing process, that racism and fear run deep - that in an environment where just using the word 'racism' is considered politically incorrect, you know things are bad. Americans are more afraid than ever, and it seems those who could change things for the better are apathetic - or maybe feeling hopeless? Or worse yet, think none of this will really impact their lives, which may be worse than those who are ruled by fear?
Rogers and Hammerstein wrote a song, for South Pacific - a song about prejudice called, 'You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" sung by the character, Lt. Cable, a guy from the 'right' side of the wealthy tracks who found himself in love with an 'island' girl of the wrong color. I remember how hearing the lyrics educated me and helped turn me into a dreaded liberal. :) Unfortunately, today, I'm feeling the same way - sad.
Lyrics for "You've Got To Be Taught":
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
Here's a terrific article by the wonderful Bill Moyers on today's ruling.