0

Voting Rights Act still necessary

Opinion column

If you want to stare into the ugly face of racial resentment, take a good look at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. His frank, if stunningly injudicious, remarks about a key portion of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) laid bare the bitterness that so many hyper-conservatives still harbor toward black progress.

Last week, during oral arguments about a challenge to the law -- widely considered the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement -- Scalia dismissed a critical part of the law as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement." Given that the VRA was passed to ensure that black Americans had the right to vote -- after white segregationists had showed they were willing to beat, jail and kill activists to block the black ballot -- it was a chilling remark.

I'm so glad Scalia, who has long since given up the charade of a circumspect judicial temperament, said exactly what was on his mind. It saves me the trouble of having to persuade you that many critics of the VRA are mossbacks who still resent the political transformation unleashed by the power of the black vote.

Other skeptics on the high court managed more subtle criticisms, largely built around the notion that much has changed in the decades since a young John Lewis was beaten bloody on the Edmund Pettis Bridge 48 years ago this week. It's a very seductive argument.

I know because I was very nearly seduced by it myself. In 2005, civil rights activists were gearing up to lobby Congress to once again renew the VRA, set to expire in 2006. As I considered their arguments, I looked around at a political landscape that Martin Luther King Jr. would not have recognized.

With black men and women serving in major political posts (appointed and elected), including as U.S. secretary of state, I was about to concede to the forces who argued that the Voting Rights Act was no longer necessary. And I was prepared to disagree with the esteemed Lewis -- who has now been a distinguished member of Congress for more than a quarter-century -- on the point.

But the Georgia General Assembly dragged me back to the reality of the modern-day politics of racial exclusion. In 2005, its Republican members pushed through an odious piece of legislation requiring state-sanctioned photo IDs, such as a driver's license, for voting. It became one of the first states to do so.

Then, as now, there was no compelling argument for the requirement. Despite conservative claims about voter fraud, in-person fraud at the ballot box is virtually non-existent. As many voting rights activists pointed out, the law was aimed squarely at poorer voters who tend to support Democrats, especially black and brown voters. Georgia's voter ID law, like similar ones around the country, was designed to suppress the minority vote. So instead of giving up on the Voting Rights Act, I enthusiastically supported its renewal in 2006.

Since then, voter suppression efforts have gone into hyper-drive.

It's true that Sheriff Jim Clark no longer waits on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge to beat protesters to a bloody pulp. But Republicans responded to President Obama's breakthrough first victory -- and the realization that it was powered by voters of color -- by becoming more imaginative in their tactics to discourage, inconvenience and disenfranchise those voters. Not only did they pass strict ID requirements, but they also moved to limit early voting. It's no accident that most of the marathon waits were endured at polling places with predominantly black or Latino voters.

The Voting Rights Act can limit the damage of those voter suppression efforts, at least in those areas of the country where Section 5 has jurisdiction. In the past three years, for example, the Justice Department used its authority to rebuff harsh voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina and to temper restrictions on early voting in Florida.

Those examples show that the Voting Rights Act, for which some brave souls gave their lives, is still necessary. Unfortunately, Scalia and his fellow partisans see the law -- which simply ensures that voters of color can exercise their right to vote without harassment -- as a giveaway to appease those uppity blacks.

Email Cynthia Tucker at cynthiacynthiatucker.com.

Comments

fairbro 1 year, 6 months ago

This writer is a flat-out bigot and racist.

As a white person, I am sick and tired of blacks getting preferred treatment because of their skin color, and women getting preferred treatment - promotions, hiring, admissions - because of their gender.

This mudslinger seesm to think that anyone who even dares to mention this racist preferential treament is somehow a racist.

Democrats are responsible for 99% of voter fraud, such as DC districts which reported 104% of the eligible voters voted for Obama, 0% against.

Trying to stop voter fraud is racist, according to this bigot-writer.

Hell, everything is racist when seen throught the eyes of this racist hatemonger.

Look in a mirror, you bigot.

2

Cirbryn 1 year, 6 months ago

I wasn't actually sure the VRA was necessary until I saw this little gem from "Fairbro". What a piece of hate-filled venom! His claims of Democratic voter fraud are simply lies, which is why he doesn't bother to back them up. http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/2012fraud.asp

0

fairbro 1 year, 6 months ago

How does racist sewage like this get to the top of Google News?

2

riverlady99 1 year, 6 months ago

Justice Scalia should be removed from the Court (along with Justice Thomas). His political prejudices are always evident in both his remarks and his votes. He is not "judicial" and has no business in a court of law, much less The Supreme Court. He disgusts me,

1

Race_B_Aiter 1 year, 6 months ago

You, like Cynthia "Race Baiter" McKinney Tucker, are apparently too obtuse to know that Supreme Court justices are there for life unless impeached (like Obama will be).

1

fairbro 1 year, 6 months ago

My comment was censored becuase I used the word "rac-st". However, the writer iof this article uses the same word every day in her columns.

This newspaper is a pathetic joke, worse than Pravda could ever dream of being, a newspaper that is nothing but hate speech

1

jhendricks 1 year, 6 months ago

Your comment was dismissed because you used profanity in it, not the word racist. Your statement above is a flat-out lie.

2

ginny 1 year, 5 months ago

Can you tell me why my comments about "The Scammer" were not printed? I don't even know a name, much less call a name. What, "The Scammer" is going to come forward and say "she slammed me?" No...well at least y'all will see this and know I was just trying to get the word out about this guy in the "Good...never mind....

0

ginny 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh, yeah...and look what CT did to the AJC and the TD, to just name two that I know about personally. (sp?)

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Voting Rights Act has been a valuable instrument in enfranchising voting participation among people of color. It should have included other entire states as well. I am aware that other areas can be included in VRA oversight through procedures in the law. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana have been identified recently as states attempting to encumber certain voting groups' rights. Enfranchisement has been a slow painful, progress in America. Irish in the first 20-30 years of the 20th century were at first disallowed to register and when permitted had to pay poll taxes which they couldn't afford. When the men began earning enough to pay the tax, the tax receipts would be collected for the sheriffs' verification under the pretense of there being forged receipts. After the elections they might be returned. Voter participation should be encouraged and laws enforced. When democracy is altered to suit the prejudices of a ruling group, America ceases to be as our founders defined us in the Preamble and Declaration of Independence.

0

revolutionnow 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't understand where the discrimination is here. Are only blacks asked for ID. Don't the same people have to identify themselves to receive all the other benefits of citizenship? Do you just walk in and say, " I am who I say I am" ? Would Obama receive the same votes if he looked more white than black and were married to a white woman? Hmm.

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

"Would Obama receive the same votes if he looked more white than black and were married to a white woman? Hmm." If he looked more white he would be caucasian. He and his wife are mulattoes. Conversely, does having white DNA make them more capable of citizenship? Not a very intelligent discourse is it? Or is this long live Strom Thurmond day?

There is not a single documented need in the last 20 years in the state of Georgia for the voter id law. There is significant documentation for the need of oversight in absentee voting which was purposefully excluded from the law. I no longer understand what begging a question means but that circumstance cries out for scrutiny. Particularly since statistically white voters are more likely than black to use absentee balloting. It is also interesting that in the last 5 years the only voter fraud has been by the party which ardently advocates electoral constriction. (FUNNY!) Any and every impediment to the realization of 100% enfranchisement should be removed. To do otherwise is morally reprehensible. I continue to put the question to all factions in the argument - why not drop the antiquated, meaningless electoral college process. Vote each person's vote?

0

revolutionnow 1 year, 6 months ago

Just pointing out that racism cut both ways. You can't deny that people are voting by color or party, not for the most qualified. And please, if you are going to bring up morals, you might as well clean out most of our elected officials. Remember DC mayor Marion Berry? I guess telling the truth is not very intelligent in todays society. You chose to label me as a racist for asking a rhetorical question. Well, I would like to hear some honest answers instead of insulting reactionary questions. That would constitute an intelligent discourse. However, I do agree with your electoral college comment .

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

I did not label you a racist. If you read my first paragraph carefully following your remark, you might understand my response was pretty much a rhetorical comment in apposition to your thesis. Above in this thread you will read a comment I offered regarding the restrictions on the Irish in voting, public offices, employment, residences, etc. It was to a lesser extent similar for the Jews. Though not necessarily so in the rural south where Jewish families often flourished. Suffrage has been a struggle from the time the Republic was founded. Even the white women had to fight like heck to get it. We all know that women are too fragile to vote and hold public office. Negroes will only vote for their own kind. Crackers just want to keep the black folk down.(HINT: Rhetorical.) So what we are really looking at is power, control and the use of prejudicial instruments to restrain the suffrage dynamic. Hence my feeling the VRA is yet relevant and ought to be expanded. So, if that puts you under a racist label it is by your own devisement and not my intent. Methinks you protest too much, citizen.

0

revolutionnow 1 year, 6 months ago

Why is proof of identity a hindrance to one voter and not another?

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

There's is absolutely no need for it. My 96 year old Irish mother in law doesn't have a picture identification. She worked in the shipyards of coastal Virginia during World War II, carried military mail and worked in the farm financing programs of this country. She worked her way through Georgia Tech's night school, put her brother through Georgia Tech, made a living for her mother and lived a life of Catholic conscience. I've known her for almost a half century and never known her to swear, prevaricate or swindle even on her taxes. Any scoundrel politician to tell her she needs a picture identification to vote lives a life unworthy of breath. The very premise of voter identification is corrupt because there is no need.

0

revolutionnow 1 year, 5 months ago

I can understand her frustration. My wife has had a drivers license in this state for 33 years and had to bring SS card, birth certifiate, 2 proof of address , and marriage certificate to renew. Now what difference does it make if she is married or not?

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 5 months ago

When applying for a passport Will Rogers was asked for a birth certificate. He asked for what reason and the agent said to prove his birth. Rogers replied well one might assume I was at the event since I am here. The lady insisted and Rogers told her that in Oklahoma no person was accompanied with papers at birth as it was a very private event. "I may not be able to prove I was born but you can't deny I'm here."

0

WTFwtf 1 year, 5 months ago

Tucker- i thought they 86d your racial 10th grade journalism out of town already. At least the AJC dropped you. Race baiting headline manufacturing 2013 style political drivel at its finest.

0

Sign in to comment