[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Goodbye to the Voting Rights Act? | 03-04-2013
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
71°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
August 22
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]


Out of Left Field | Commentary by Charlie Vignola
| Monday, Mar 4, 2013

charlievignolaThe Supreme Court of the United States took up a challenge last week to the Voting Rights Act, which passed during the height of the Civil Rights movement to address the Southern states’ long, disgusting history of disenfranchising black voters. Predictably, the five conservative justices had problems with it, as they seem to have with any law that protects minorities or the underclass.

What was interesting was that based on the conservative justices’ comments, we learned several things that should be pretty big news: that the problem of racism in Southern states doesn’t really exist anymore; that the Voting Rights Act is an unfair “racial entitlement”; and that Congress can’t be trusted to pass laws that deal with race because they’re too fearful to vote against them.

At issue is Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which says certain Southern states and other jurisdictions that have a history of racial discrimination must submit any changes to their voting laws to the federal government to ensure they are not designed to disenfranchise voters.

Back in the bad old days, Southern states were notorious for trying to suppress the black vote with illegal literacy tests, poll taxes and other ham-fisted gambits designed to keep people of color from the polls. As a long-overdue response, Congress finally got its act together in 1965 and passed the Voting Rights Act, now considered one of the most successful pieces of legislation in U.S. history.

Why is this law now being challenged when it’s been so effective for so long? Because Shelby, Ala., has decided that the law – specifically Section Five – is an undue burden on the Southern states, and that the law has outlived its usefulness since (snicker) there’s no bigotry in the South anymore.

Well, of course there’s no bigotry in the South anymore; if you listen to conservatives, bigotry in America is a wildly overblown threat, like global warming and gun violence. Hell, we just elected a black president to a second term in office, so if that’s not proof that we’ve officially overcome racism in America, what more do you want?

You see, racism has nothing to do with the scurrilous rumors that President Obama is really a Kenyan-born Muslim, which is believed by one-third of Republican voters. Racism has nothing to do with a 400-percent rise in death threats against the first black president; that’s just a coincidence. It’s also just a coincidence that the first black president lost every former Confederate state in the last two elections, and that Republicans still rely on Nixon’s racially charged “Southern strategy” to cobble together enough electoral votes to stay competitive on a national level.

Conservatives who want to get rid of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act say the law still contains a Section Two, which allows people to challenge any laws that smack of racial discrimination.

Granted, they’ll have to find lawyers to defend them and launch expensive lawsuits that could drag on for years, and the votes they were initially deprived of can’t be restored – but hey, there’s still a mechanism in place to deal with the most egregious violators, and that should be good enough.

In other words, conservatives want to shift the burden away from those historically bigoted Southern states and onto the backs of the disenfranchised voters to prove actual discrimination at their own time and expense. Once again, whether they’re making it tougher for unions to organize, or to sue doctors for malpractice, or to file class-action lawsuits against greedy corporations, Republicans are always on the side that’s against the little guy.

It’s worth noting that Congress just passed a 25-year extension to the Voting Rights Act in 2006 with unanimous support. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for Justice Scalia. Based on his comments, Scalia believes Congress only passed the law out of habit because too many congressmen are cowards, afraid of the political consequences of voting against a law designed to fight racism, so they need Sheriff Scalia and the Supreme Court to set things right.

Scalia can magically read the minds of politicians, and the only way to address this travesty is for the justices to step in and overturn congressional legislation – which is the very definition of judicial activism.

This isn’t surprising, coming from the same conservative-majority Supreme Court so devoutly concerned about states’ rights that it felt perfectly comfortable interceding in Florida’s affairs during 2000’s “Bush v. Gore” and overruling Florida’s Supreme Court to install a president against the majority will of the voters.

Then again, this general behavior isn’t so surprising, coming from the same party that attempted to pass a slew of new voter-suppression laws in anticipation of the 2012 election, hoping they could depress turnout among Democratic-leaning voters and thus swing the presidential election in the Republicans’ favor.

Their coordinated national attempt failed miserably, so now the right is rolling out Phase 2, which has already included an abortive attempt to reapportion electoral votes within individual states in an effort to move the goal posts and give conservatives an unfair advantage.

Based on the five conservative justices’ deeply skeptical questions last week, it appears Section Five of the Voting Rights Act may indeed be on the chopping block, and Southern states will once again be free to resume newer, more cleverly constructed attempts to discriminate against voters of color.

The right might win this battle, but if history is an indicator, they will lose the war – and with it, any chance to woo back the minorities they need if they ever hope to win a national election again.

 

Charlie Vignola describes himself as a former College Republican turned liberal Democrat.  A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley since 1999, he works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

4 Comments

  1. Scott says:

    The Constitution is very clear: the States, and the States *alone* have the authority to choose their Electors and representatives in Congress. For the Feds to step in you need a truly compelling state interest, and as SCOTUS has demonstrated, that time has passed. The section will be stricken, and correctly so. It doesn’t mean that there’s zero racism, but the provable levels of disenfranchisement as a result of state law is now much too small to justify the Feds overstepping their clearly stated Constitutional constraints.

  2. B K says:

    Not sure why I wasted my time reading such a pile of crap!!! If you stuck with the argument against the fact that racism doesn’t exist you hold creedence and merit. Sadly, this is a problem that goes in all directions. I do recall images of Black Panthers holding bats in front of polling locations in Philadelphia. However, you lose creedence when you move the argument, attacking a political party for its mere existance.

    To accuse the Republican Party of interferring in the Florida vote by stating the court went against “the majority of voters” is so laughable. You sir need to read up on the Electoral College. If you wish to bring-up a debate on its merits, by all means do so. (It goes both ways)
    You also return to the argument that voters voted against President Obama merely because he is black. I wouldn’t deny that some are the case (again, sadly that goes both directions). However, many choose not to vote for President Obama based on his ultra-liberal stance. But alas that seems to always be ignored. I find those comments racist in themselves, presumptive racism. Bullying by cowardly accusing those that choose not to vote for him as boiled down to one thing – skin color!
    You and Mr. Zaring are so phony in your comments “former Republican”! Not one statement aligns with conservatism – easily seen through.

  3. Ajay Jain says:

    “The BIBLE”, the mini-series on HISTORY channel starting 3/3/13 Sundays at 7pm CT coming from Mark Burnett has got to be really good. It is on HISTORY Channel starting on 3/3/13 on Sundays 7 pm CT Channel 55 on TWC Time Warner Cable. Check out the latest Bible trailer by going here: http://histv.co/XZmj4s What are you most looking forward to watching in the series premiere on 3.3.13 at 8/7c? On HISTORY channel 55 on Time Warner Cable (TWC).

  4. Barnabus Collins says:

    Silly liberal – voting itself isn’t a Constitutional right. Wherever you received your degree from … I urge you to consider demanding your money back. http://www.usconstitution.net/constnot.html#vote

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017
If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to some really bad outcomes, including kidney problems, glaucoma and other eye disorders, foot ulcers, amputation of feet or legs, stroke, diabetic coma, and even death.
Friday, Aug 11, 2017
There is no doubt the vast majority of Democrats and liberals loathe Trump. Certainly all of the leftists thoroughly hate him, and they have some company. They’re called Republicans.
Wednesday, Aug 2, 2017
In his August message to the community, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin details the city's emergency preparedness resources.
Tuesday, Aug 1, 2017
As our first president George Washington said, “We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”
Sunday, Jul 30, 2017
Many shocking surprises have shown up around the world as the ice melts. We’ve found a perfectly preserved baby woolly mammoth, a field of dead reindeer that died of anthrax, and then last year, infected people in Russia, and in Alaska, an Air Force plane that disappeared was finally found in the Colony Glacier. It had crashed in 1952, killing everyone on board.
Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017
When President Donald Trump ordered Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review the status of 27 national monuments created by three former presidents, many across the nation took it as a call to action to advocate on behalf of the monuments closest to their homes, and their hearts.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The County and City of Los Angeles are asking that residents complete the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles (PALA) Age-Friendly Survey between now and September 15, 2017.
Officials Urge Residents to Complete Survey on Aging
A bank robbery at the Wescom Credit Union in Stevenson Ranch is under investigation by deputies, officials reported Monday afternoon.
Deputies Investigating Stevenson Ranch Bank Robbery
The contenders for the Best FIFA Women's Player 2017 have been revealed and voting is now underway.
Blue Heat’s Castellanos Makes FIFA’s Shortlist for Best Women’s Player 2017
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a possible burglary call at a warehouse in the 29000 block of Avenue Sherman in Valencia Monday morning.
SCV Deputies Investigate Reported Valencia Warehouse Burglary
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a once-in-a-century solar experience took place Monday. Plus, on Saturday, dozens of people gathered in Newhall to celebrate the legacy of the old Saugus Speedway, its racers and its crew. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, August 21, 2017
The 28th Annual Fine Art Show & Gala presented by the Santa Clarita Artists Association and the county of Los Angeles takes over Hart Hall on Saturday afternoon, October 14.
October 14: SCAA, County’s 28th Annual Art Classic at Hart Park
Organizers of the city of Santa Clarita's quarterly photo contest are now accepting entries for the fall 2017 competition.
City Opens Entries for Fall 2017 Photo Contest
The Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club invites everyone who shares a special connection with the club to the Alumni BBQ on Saturday afternoon, September 9.
September 9: Boys & Girls Club Alumni & Friends BBQ
Comedian and magician Fritz Coleman brings his stand-up show to Santa Clarita with an intimate, one-time performance at the Keyboard Galleria Music Center on Saturday, August 26.
August 26: Comic Fritz Coleman Stands Up at Keyboard Galleria
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station issued 38 traffic citations Friday and arrested a Newhall man on a parole violation warrant on Saturday.
Deputies Cite Speeders, Arrest Parolee
Lancaster JetHawks right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco has been named the California League Pitcher of the Week for August 14-20, 2017.
JetHawks’ Tinoco Named Cal League Pitcher of the Week
The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Dodgers Aqcuire Outfielder Curtis Granderson from Mets
The TMU Mustangs' women's volleyball home opener proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered as the hosts dispatched Lewis & Clark State College (ID) in straight sets 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.
Lady Mustangs Dispatch Lewis & Clark in Straight Sets
The Master's University's men's soccer team inaugurated their 2017 season with a 5-0 win over Northwest of Washington on Reese Field Saturday afternoon.
TMU Men’s Soccer Blanks Northwest in Season Opener
The Master’s University women’s soccer team’s 2017 record improved to 2-0 after beating the No. 8 ranked Northwest University Eagles 3-1 on Saturday morning at Reese Field.
TMU Women’s Soccer Team Grounds Eagles 3-1 Saturday
CalArtians Mathieu Libman (Film/Video BFA 19) and Aram Sarkisian (Film/Video BFA 17) are among the seven finalists for Student Academy Awards in the Animation category.
Two CalArtians Named 2017 Student Academy Awards Finalists
Western singer and songwriter John Zipperer headlines the next episode of "SCVTV Presents The OutWest Concert Series" at The MAIN in Old Town Newhall the evening of Friday, August 25.
August 25: John Zipperer Headlines ‘SCVTV Presents The OutWest Concert Series’
The Lancaster JetHawks clinched a franchise-record sixth consecutive winning season with their 71st victory, a 7-2 win over the Inland Empire 66ers, on Sunday afternoon at San Manuel Stadium.
JetHawks Sweep Sixers Sunday, Secure Winning Season
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and the city of Santa Clarita launch the “Heads Up” campaign this week to combat distracted driving and increase pedestrian safety.
City, Sheriff’s Station Launch ‘Heads Up’ Safety Campaign
An 18-year-old man from Lancaster surrendered to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Special Victims Unit Monday morning in connection with an alleged sexual assault earlier this month on College of the Canyons' Valencia campus.
Suspect Arrested in Alleged COC Sexual Assault
The Lancaster JetHawks scored seven runs in the fifth inning, propelling themselves to a 9-4 win over the Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium.
Seven-Run Fifth Inning Carries JetHawks to Win Saturday
Hundreds of drivers were screened in a DUI checkpoint in Stevenson Ranch Friday night, but no arrests were made, CHP officials said.
CHP DUI Checkpoint Screens Hundreds of Drivers
1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]
The Santa Clarita Public Library invites residents to view the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21 at the Old Town Newhall Library starting at 10 a.m.
August 21: Solar Eclipse Viewing at Newhall Library
1967 - New Town of Valencia dedicated; homes sell for $25,000 [story]
1879 - Newhall civic leader Charles Henry Kingsburry born in Missouri [story]
Alerted by a concerned citizen Friday, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies once again rescued dogs the owner left in a car with the windows rolled up and no water.
Deputies Break Window, Rescue Dogs Locked in Car
40 oz. to Freedom arrives in Santa Clarita as part of its anniversary tour at Concerts in the Park at Central Park on Saturday, August 19, with showtime at 7 p.m.
August 19: 40 Oz. to Freedom Rocks Central Park
Two local environmental groups filed a complaint in L.A. Superior Court Thursday regarding the approved plan to provide water to the Newhall Ranch development, set to break ground in 2018.
Environmental Groups File Complaint Against Newhall Ranch Water Plan
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has provided $143,000 in funding to extend the season of youth and adult swim programs offered at the Castaic Aquatic Center through October 31.
Castaic Aquatic Center Programs Extended to October 31
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Los Angeles County firefighters and government leaders welcomed back the Super Scoopers Friday morning. Plus, the Old Town Newhall Library helped get the community ready for it as well by handing out free eclipse viewing glasses. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, August 18, 2017
CalArts alumna Audrey Chan (Art MFA 07) will host a free, all-ages interactive arts workshop in Little Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20, as part of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s 2017 Nisei Week activities.
August 19-20: Nisei Week Arts Workshop with CalArts Alum Audrey Chan
Habitat for Humanity SFV/SCV is honored to have received a $25,000 grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, which will fund trauma workshops.
Habitat for Humanity Receives $25K Grant from Disabled Veterans
Here are agenda highlights for the next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, set for Tuesday, August 22, starting at 9:30 a.m..
August 22: Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda
Ashley Olivier, a student worker at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, summited Mt. Whitney with her dad, a lieutenant at LASD's Monterey Park station.
SCV Sheriff’s Station Student Worker, LASD Dad Top Mt. Whitney