The preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act are up for Supreme Court review. A decision is expected soon. Conservatives in Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and President George W. Bush signed it, surrounded by civil rights leaders:
President Bush on Thursday signed legislation extending for 25 years the Voting Rights Act, the historic 1965 law which opened polls to millions of black Americans by outlawing racist voting practices in the South. “Congress has reaffirmed its belief that all men are created equal,” he declared.
Bush signed the bill amid fanfare and before a South Lawn audience that included members of Congress, civil rights leaders and family members of civil rights leaders of the recent past. It was one of a series of high-profile ceremonies the president is holding to sign popular bills into law.
The Republican controlled Congress, eager to improve its standing with minorities ahead of the November elections, pushed the bill through even though key provisions were not set to expire until next year.
Here’s the elected conservatives in 2012:
As they entered and exited weekly party luncheons Tuesday afternoon, I and other reporters asked many GOP senators if they consider a centerpiece of the law, which was battered by conservative justices during Supreme Court oral arguments last week, should be upheld. Every one of them dodged the questions, some more artfully than others.“Uh,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), before a long, awkward pause, “I haven’t even thought about it.” He laughed and said, “I’ll leave that to the courts. I’m having a hard enough time being a senator, much less a Supreme Court justice.” The landmark 1965 law has been reauthorized four times by Congress and was most recently renewed by a 98-0 vote in the Senate.
Here’s Justice Scalia on why Republicans in Congress can’t be expected to take a public position on the VRA. They’re suffering from Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement Theory, a malady that Justice Scalia diagnosed:
I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes….And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless—unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution… [T]his is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.
If PRET sounds both very bad and very powerful, well, it is. Also, “it’s been written about” may be the funniest cite I have ever heard. I don’t think that would pass muster in the Balloon Juice comment section, but it’s good enough for Justice Scalia who is brilliant, as you all know or should know. It’s been written about.
Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement Theory has the power to silence US Senators. Not just silence them, but force them to vote to reauthorize a law and appear at photo ops immediately before an election. When will African American and Latino voters stop forcing Senator Lindsey Graham to reauthorize laws he’s opposed to? Can Justice Scalia halt this cruel victimization of United States Senators by African American and Latino voters?
On August 28, 2012, a federal court in Washington found that Texas’s redistricting maps were “enacted with discriminatory purpose” and violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Texas Republicans not only failed to grant new power to minority voters in the state, the court found, they also took away vital economic resources from minority Democratic members of Congress.
From the opinion:
Congressman Al Green, who represents CD 9, testified that “substantial surgery” was done to his district that could not have happened by accident. The Medical Center, Astrodome, rail line, and Houston Baptist University — the “economic engines” of the district — were all removed in the enacted plan. The enacted plan also removed from CD 9 the area where Representative Green had established his district office. Likewise, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents CD 18, testified that the plan removed from her district key economic generators as well as her district office. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of CD 30 also testified that the plan removed the American Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks), the arts district, her district office, and her home from CD 30. The mapdrawers also removed the district office, the Alamo, and the Convention Center (named after the incumbent’s father), from CD 20, a Hispanic ability district.
No such surgery was performed on the districts of Anglo incumbents. In fact, every Anglo member of Congress retained his or her district office. Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren. The only explanation Texas offers for this pattern is “coincidence.” But if this was coincidence, it was a striking one indeed.
Li says that based on the state’s rapid population growth, legislators should have drawn an additional majority-Hispanic Congressional seat in North Texas and a Democratic-leaning district in Austin’s Travis County, along with six to seven more state House seats with a higher minority population that are more favorable to Democrats. Between 2010 and 2011, Texas gained 687,305 new eligible voters, 83 percent of them non-white, a trend that has political analysts speculating that Texas will turn purple in the not-so-distant future.