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April 30th, 2009
11:46 AM ET

The more things change...

Jami Floyd
In Session

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Voting Rights Act became law 44 years ago; but it has been repeatedly challenged and repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, it’s back before the justices with a case focused on the usual suspects: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, states with a long and ugly history of discrimination at the voting booth. But Section 5, the section of the law specifically at issue, also covers Alaska and parts of California and New York. In fact, there are a total of 16 states that are required to get approval from the Justice Department before they can change any of their statutory voting procedures.

Some of these states are actually asking the justices to uphold the law as a model of civil rights integrity and enforcement.

But, God love ‘em, Georgia and Alabama, states with the most notorious of histories, are fighting the case tooth and nail. They argue that there is no need for a law rooted in the past, a law passed 25 years ago; and they’re pointing to Barack Obama as proof.

But with all due respect to the president, his election is not proof that racial discrimination is a thing of the past, at the polls or anywhere else. In Alabama, for example, voting is still polarized along racial lines; fewer than 11 percent of white voters there supported Obama. Beyond that, there are hundreds of examples — across the country — of elaborate schemes to suppress the black vote, schemes undone by the requirements of the VRA.

All of this will play out once again in the Supreme Court. But this time the arguments will be held before a new, more conservative Court, including a chief who has long expressed his opposition to the VRA.

Let’s hope the majority can help the Court see its way to justice.

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Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Justice Department
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. J, VA

    Please notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. I failed to check
    the box in my earlier post. Thank you.

    April 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Christine Watsky from Ocean City, MD

    Thank you for publicizing this outrage. What an important story. It is unbelievable how these oppressors continue to refuse to evolve. When will they get it??

    April 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  3. justroy55

    I will someone would do a real story on the VA Benefits mess. Shinsecki has a strong commitment. The VA doesn't. Veterans are not getting fair treatment. They get the run around, lies, delays, shredded files. I know this first hand, my son is an Iraqi vet. Purple Heart doesn't mean what it use to, at least with the VA.

    April 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  4. Mike in NYC

    "...fewer than 11 percent of white voters there supported Obama."

    I realize this wasn't your main point, but - so? People tend to vote for candidates they can relate to, and who they think will support their interests. Personally, I have no problem with it. People will vote the way they want to vote, and their reasons are no one's business - not yours, not mine, and certainly not the federal government's.

    Come on, admit it - you want to use the club of fed gov power to make Whites vote the way you think they should.

    April 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  5. Paul Ernest Show

    It is a frightening scenario, more so because of the said opposition of the chief justice. I hope he would see the new light God is shining on America and realize we must do away with all specter of our ugly past, keep all ideas- be they laws, philosophies, mindsets, that encourage equity, good conscience and above all, true justice. That is what we continue to tell the world we are a nation of. Let's live out its truest meaning.

    April 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Roy Daniel

    After 30 years with Chrysler Jeep Corp...what will happen to my pension if they file Chapter 11?

    April 30, 2009 at 11:59 am |