Such is the nature of politics these days and particularly that of racial politics, you would have thought that the Supreme Court today struck down the entirety of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Shelby vs. Holder, when in fact they did not. What the Supremes ruled unconstitutional was Section 5 of the VRA which determined that, depending upon the jurisdiction, any changes to voting rules and procedures, even at the local level, would need to be approved by the Justice Department.
In a 5-4 ruling with the court's conservatives in the majority, the justices ruled that Congress had used outdated facts in continuing to force nine states, mainly in the South, to get federal approval for voting rule changes affecting blacks and other minorities.
There have been two separate instances in which we have wrote about how the Section 5 has been used and used in a highly dubious manner. The first involved the city of Kinston, North Carolina which had decided that they were going to hold non-partisan city elections, i.e. candidates would no longer be affiliated with any particular party on the ballot, a practice that is quite common throughout the country.
The Justice Department denied Kinston this change to their voting process and a subsequent ruling by a U.S. District judge rejected a challenge to Section 5 reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise would not be able to locate the Democratic candidate on the Kinston ballot.
You would not be mistaken if you believed this smacks of paternal plantation politics.
The second instance was with respect to the city of Port Chester which is located 25 miles northeast of New York City. In a city of 30,000 people, half of which are Hispanic, no Hispanic had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats. Federal Judge Stephen Robinson deemed this a violation of the VRA and in a bit of Solomon -like wisdom, approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates which prompted this response from one of the townies:
"That was very strange," Arthur Furano, 80, said after voting. "I'm not sure I liked it. All my life, I've heard, `one man, one vote.'"
Obviously, one man - one vote is an antiquated relic of the past when one is on a rabid mission to achieve the correct racial balance of a burg's dog-catchers.
And what the two examples above also represent is the soft bigotry of low expectations.
So, if pernicious meddling at the local level seemed to be the M.O. of late for Section 5, perhaps the Supremes figured it was time to pull the plug on what had been a very well-intended provision of a law that helped guarantee the franchise for people who did indeed need help at the federal level to make this happen.
Now a days, Mississippi the state of some of the worst cases of segregation and racial violence now boasts more black elected politicians than any state in the nation, not per capita, but total. And indeed, for states in the South, black voter registration as a percentage of their population pretty much mirrors that of whites.
Predictably, however, progressives flipped their collective lids over the Supreme Court decision and just as predictably took out their not-so-latent bigotry on Justice Clarence Thomas who sided with the majority.
Two things we'll never understand: 1) how it is your skin color should determine your politics. Is that not a form of bigotry in itself? And 2) how progressives simply will not acknowledge that we've made huge strides in race relations since the passage of the VRA and other civil rights legislation. Memo to Progs: it worked. It freaking worked! Rejoice!
Simply put, what is it about a black President, a black Attorney General and a black female National Security Advisor that gives lie to this?
Laws are amended, updated and, yes, repealed all the time but for some folks, time has stood still and acknowledging the success of these laws by rolling back some of their subsequent excessive tendencies is grounds for unhinged howls of apostasy.
It's a shame because at least in the case of guaranteeing the franchise for minorities, we won. We all won.