Hey, remember back when we used to have a Voting Rights Act?

Well, the 15th Amendment was nice while it lasted. And thanks to the Voting Rights Act, it was actually mostly enforced for almost 50 years.

Not any more though.

Kevin Drum compares the Court’s logic in Shelby to the very different standards and logic it used in Crawford v. Marion County:

If a law is passed on a party-line vote, has no justification in the historical record, and is highly likely to harm black voting, that’s OK as long as the legislature in question can whomp up some kind of neutral-sounding justification. Judicial restraint is the order of the day. But if a law is passed by unanimous vote, is based on a power given to Congress with no strings attached, and is likely to protect black voting, that’s prohibited unless the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Congress’s approach is one they approve of. Judicial restraint is out the window.

Jesse Curtis says the ruling only makes sense if you accept the idea that “unequal treatment of states is to be guarded against more assiduously than unequal treatment of citizens.” An idea, he notes, that goes back to John Calhoun.

Click here to read Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, a document that will outlive the flaccid lack of argument and immorality of Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion.

Scott Lemieux agrees, noting that the 15th Amendment explicitly gives Congress the constitutional right to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. It does indeed. Yet Chief Justice John Roberts’ “opinion, laying out a theory of state sovereignty on voting that justifies his palpable disrespect for Congress, does not mention the 15th Amendment at all.” (Let’s get Tommy Lee Jones back into his Thaddeus Stevens costume so he can pay the chief justice a visit and ask him about this contempt for the vital amendments of America’s hard-won new birth of freedom.)

Paul Campos is not impressed with the legal reasoning of the Court’s decision: “The majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder is the worst SCOTUS opinion I’ve ever read, considered simply as an exercise in formal legal argument,” he writes. “And I’ve read Bush v. Gore.”

Jeff Gauvin tweeted a Life magazine photo from 1965, showing: “Racists in 1965 marching against the Voting Rights Act. They Win.”

• Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona said: “We were being punished by the Voting Rights Act for indiscretions, bad things that took place decades ago, and those don’t take place any longer.” Because Sheriff Joe Arpaio has helped make Maricopa County a post-racial utopia.

• Brewer is pretending to forget that under the VRA, Arizona and any other jurisdiction could have freed itself from “pre-clearance … by simply demonstrating over a ten year period that they’re no longer abusing/discriminating against minority voters in the jurisdiction.” But let’s not pick on Gov. Brewer — five justices just pretended to have forgotten that same thing as well.

The Liar Tony Perkins — who hasn’t been the guest of honor at a white supremacist meeting in years — gets all Birth of a Nation in celebrating the decision: “For too long, states like Alabama, which brought the lawsuit, have been prisoners of history. Instead of punishing them for past mistakes, this ruling finally takes states out from under Washington’s thumb.” I’m not sure if he’s praising Roberts’ decision in Shelby or President Hayes’ decision to end Reconstruction, but he’s clearly pleased with both.

• And here’s Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who fought and bled for the Voting Rights Act:

It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today, maybe they’re not being denied the right to participate, to register to vote, they’re not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the old Confederacy and even in some of the states outside of the South, there has been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period.

And these men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines, they never had to pass a so-called literacy test. … It took us almost a hundred years to get where we are today. So, will it take another hundred years to fix it, to change it?

• The estimable Mr. Field, esq., takes a dim view of the partisan logic of the partisan Court: “Chief Justice Roberts is hoping for a ‘better future’ because he didn’t like this past election very much. He, and others like him, are hoping that the new schemes that Republican state houses are coming up with to make it harder and harder for poor people and people of color to vote, will make it easier for them to win elections and impose their extreme will on the rest of us.”

Republican attorney general of Texas Greg Abbott rushed to confirm that suspicion. Within hours of the ruling, Abbott said: “The state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. … Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.” Those measures had been blocked by the Voting Rights Act because they will effectively suppress the votes of non-white Texans.

Republicans in North Carolina’s legislature are also rolling out a Voter ID bill that would not have been permitted under the VRA.

• Same song, same verse in South Carolina too, where Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson celebrated the end of the Voting Rights Act as “an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty.”

Jessica Mason Pieklo says we can also expect Mississippi to join the rush to pass voter-suppressing ID laws and racially motivated redistricting schemes.

Josh Marshall adds all that up and sees this decision kicking off “open season on minority voting. And as the Republican party signals a strategic aim of doubling down on maximizing the white vote … the imperative to reduce the minority vote as much as possible only grows greater.”

• Kevin Drum sees this Republican celebration and says the ruling will be a windfall for Republican candidates in 2014. Maybe. That’s true if they succeed in suppressing a significant share of the nonwhite vote. But if you come at the voters, you’d best not miss. Suppressing non-white votes is one way to address the demographic shift threatening the GOP’s future, but it requires them to double-down on their hostility to non-white voters — and that will only exacerbate their problems in the long run. Josh Green describes the potential downside for the GOP:

On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. But is it really? I suspect it will turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Many of the GOP’s current problems stem from the fact that it is overly beholden to its white, Southern base at a time when the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. In order to expand its base of power beyond the House of Representatives, the GOP needs to expand its appeal to minority voters. As the ongoing battle over immigration reform demonstrates, that process is going poorly and looks like it will be very difficult.

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House.

• At Wonkblog, Dylan Matthews has a wonky take on “How Congress Could Fix the Voting Rights Act” — much of which is actually about how civil rights groups might use litigation to make up for Congress being unable to do so. It’s an interesting piece, but it focuses more on what might be technically possible than what is probably politically possible.

• I’ll give the last word to Jamelle Bouie:

Reconstruction was a start, and it ended in failure after a decade of Northern frustration and Southern hostility. The Great Society and the civil rights laws of the 1960s constitute the beginnings of a second attempt, and in the case of the Voting Rights Act, it was a significant success.

But that success hasn’t fixed the problem, and many Americans have grown tired of trying to remedy the effects of racism. By striking down Section 4 of the VRA and ignoring the clear words of the Fifteenth Amendment, Roberts is elevating white America’s racial fatigue into constitutional law.

Is this a backlash? I’m not sure. But between the Court’s ruling on the VRA, the ongoing assaults on affirmative action, and the white public’s belief in its own marginalization, I will say that, yet again, we have reached the limits of what this country will do to address the conditions of African Americans. Or, if not that, then we’re taking another break — not a long one, let’s hope — from grappling with the implications of our history.

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  • Dan Hetrick

    I have never been more ashamed to live in North Carolina.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I have never been more ashamed to live in the United States.

  • Veylon

    Is this thing going to end up like the Patriot Act? I can easily envision Republicans – in ten or fifteen years – crying about the evils of the very thing they are championing today.

  • Jessica_R

    And in Texas if you don’t like a mouthy lady person trying to do some Democracy you can let her prattle on for 11 fucking hours, let her actually win, and then say “Whoops you’re a girl! We passed it anyway with magic!” Fuck everything right now.

  • SisterCoyote

    They called everyone back in… ah, half an hour ago? And took it back, admitted the bill hadn’t passed. I suspect it’s too little too late, though. The Texas Tribune reports state troopers refusing to arrest protesters, and rumor’s saying some of the Republicans were afraid to leave the chamber for their lives. Which, after defrauding their process in front of hundreds of thousands of people, is more or less as it should be.

  • Jessica_R

    Man what a night! Planned to turn in at midnight but then rode a rollercoaster of rage, despair, right back into triumph town. Davis is amazing, and the good guys always win, even in Texas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tbnC-gLhiw

  • SisterCoyote

    I know. I think part of the reason I’m so angry, restless, and despairing right now is because the last time I stayed up hours past midnight, watching a political scene unfold on livestream in the IRC channel, it was Occupy Wall Street getting broken, and this is just bringing back all those memories.

    But partly, it’s that for quite some time now, my answer to family, acquaintances, anyone who talked about “reverse racism” as if it was a valid argument, was to point out that there are people alive today who remember when they couldn’t vote because they weren’t white. It has failed to make people think, at times, but it has also made people think.

    And our Supreme Court, who we – theoretically – trust to shoot down laws that break our civil rights – just decided they wanted to bring us back to that time.

  • Fanraeth

    I suppose I should have seen this coming when Scalia felt completely comfortable claiming the Voting Rights Act was a racial entitlement during the arguments. I live in the South; if anyone tries to tell me that the South is no longer racist enough to need the Act, I will laugh in their faces and ask them what drugs they’re on.

  • Carstonio

    If our society were really over racism, Paula Deen would have felt too ashamed of her beliefs about blacks and the Confederacy to even voice these. It’s encouraging that her statements are provoking revulsion, but it’s not enough.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, I’m glad that Paula Deen is facing consequences and censure for her racism.

    But here’s the thing: she’s handled this pretty well. Not perfectly, but better than most. She’s apologized — actually apologized, not faux-pologized. She’s tried to do better. And she’s basically having her public career destroyed for it, which is reasonable and all.

    But it seems like the actual message here is “If you are accused of racism, you should deny it, feign outrage and smear your accusers. Because if you try to do the right thing and actually accept and admit your fault, you will lose your job and be publically shamed, whereas if you just keep screaming that you did nothing wrong and what terrible people your accusers are, the public will quickly forget and forgive you and the story that enters the public consciousness won’t be ‘you’re a racist’, but ‘it’s a complicated issue of he-said she-said and the truth is obviously somewhere in the middle.'”

    I’m glad Paula Deen is facing censure for her racism. But I am not at all happy that she’s the exception rather than the rule.

    (The other thing I am not happy about is that about 99% of what people are saying about it is based around fat-shaming. She’s being punished less for being a racist as for being a racist while fat.)

  • Ben English

    Honestly, I think congress should just say, fine, every state is now subject to review of voting policies.

  • Fanraeth

    Sounds like a great idea. There’s plenty of shadiness to go around when you have public officials publicly admitting they’re deliberately trying to disenfranchise students, among other groups.

  • SisterCoyote

    Seriously, the North is still racist. If we had a Congress that I trusted to do more than wring their hands and shit themselves, I’d be happy at the idea we might get a law that fixed the voting laws all over. Instead, we’ll just wind up with twice the gerrymandering we already had.

  • P J Evans

    Some of those that will be hit hard are the Native Americans in South Dakota, where the legislature is doing everything it can do disenfranchise them.

  • the shepard

    of all the weasel words they use, reverse is the one that pisses me off the most.
    “oh, i am being persecuted by being calles on my bullshit. they’re unjustly using my history of being unjust to others against me.”
    cowboy up, stop whining and show that you’re better than you used to be.

  • the shepard

    while i do beleive that the good guys always win, it would be nice if they didn’t have to fight some of the battles in the first place.

  • Jessica_R

    Oh totally. I’m just glad that if the assholes will always be with us we have folks like Davis, and back up like Watson, around.

  • FearlessSon

    Hey Shepard, you were the one who said it back in ME2:

    “The Texas GOP attacked our reproductive rights. They took our abortion, our sex education. They think we’re helpless. They’re wrong. They started a war, but we’re not here to finish it. We’re here to make them regret — to show them and everyone else what happens when you go too far. No more running, no more waiting. Let’s hit them where they live.”

  • FearlessSon

    The Texas Tribune reports state troopers refusing to arrest protesters, and rumor’s saying some of the Republicans were afraid to leave the chamber for their lives.

    Considering that they were in the state with the loosest gun laws and broadest rates of gun ownership, in a the city in that state most known for opposing those particular affiliations of senators, over an extremely contentious issue in which thousands show up to protest… I would be surprised if they were not afraid for their lives.

  • Matri

    And the irony is that they were the ones who made it that way, with their rampant deregulation of gun ownership laws.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It’s like they say, an armed society is a polite society…

  • Jeff Weskamp

    “Fraud” is the only word for what the Republicans tried to do in Texas. They should be arrested for what they did.

    I hope Fred writes about the battle over abortion in Texas. I’d love to read his opinions about it.

  • phantomreader42

    I don’t know that “fraud” is the ONLY word, there’s probably an argument for “treason” as well.

  • P J Evans

    If you have to cheat to win, then you deserve to lose.

  • VMink

    I’d like my groundbreaking, socially-conscious broad-coverage legislation to be passed midday, midweek, with all cameras on it, with reporters and press watching, with serious debate (mockable debate suitably mocked and dismissed, of course) preceding a clear and unambiguous vote. And, hell, with a brass band waiting outside, too. And with an immediate recess so that there can be a parade to bring the bill to the governor immediately so they can sign it or veto it in person and in front of the cameras and give them the opportunity to say ‘why.’

    Not, you know, passed in the middle of the night by lies, cheating, and deception and behind closed doors.

  • Lorehead

    I strongly disagree with your last sentence, which endorses political executions.

  • SisterCoyote

    Yeah, you’re right. I was very angry – not that that’s any excuse. I don’t mean to endorse political executions, but I do think that governments should, on occasions when they have broken their own laws in an effort to disenfranchise their constituents, be afraid. Not for their lives – for immediately being removed from power and prosecuted, though. Guns are the wrong way to go about that.

  • Lorehead

    Right, it was pretty clear you were speaking in hyperbole.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Davis will also now be gerrymandered out of her seat, thanks to the repeal of VRA. Her district was one of those that the VRA protected, which will now go into effect, per the Texas AG above.

  • FearlessSon

    Today left the taste of so many legislative and judicial ashes in my mouth.

    I am not a conspiracy theorist who thinks some New World Order is going to take over and assume absolute control by subverting democratic institutions… but damn if today does not tempt me to think so.

  • Turcano

    It’s not really a conspiracy theory if they openly state their intent.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    That’s what Matt Taibbi has been saying for years whenever someone accuses him of issuing “conspiracy theories” about Wall Street’s control over our government. Everything Wall Street has done has been open and above board; there’s no need for fevered speculation and theorizing. They blatantly control Congress and the Senate through their lobbyists, and anyone who takes any time at all to investigate it will see that it’s true.

  • Emcee, cubed

    I’m terribly curious about how this insistence on “state sovereignty” is going to play out in tomorrow’s ruling about DOMA. It’s going to take some Barnum and Bailey worthy contortionism to say DOMA doesn’t infringe on state sovereignty, but the VRA does…

  • FearlessSon

    In fairness, I can see their argument. Nominally, states are compelled to recognize the laws of other states, which includes the civil institution of marriage. Thus, if you are married in one state, other states are required to recognize that marriage. What DOMA does is put an exception on this requirement, so that states are only compelled to recognize opposite-sex marriages performed in other states and are under no obligation to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. They would claim that striking down DOMA infringes on their states’ rights… to disenfranchise gay couples.

    Granted, it is not a “right” worth maintaining for all the harm it does (for example a married gay couple has to be careful when relocating to another state because their marriage might not be necessarily recognized everywhere) but I can see where they are coming from.

  • Emcee, cubed

    The case before the Court does not concern states recognizing marriages in other states. That would be Section 2, which is not under review. What is under review is Section 3, which says that the federal government can’t recognize same-sex marriages even if a state defines marriage to include it. The federal government is therefore infringing on the rights of states to define marriage as they see fit.

  • P J Evans

    The Justices tend to use whatever reasoning will provide the results they want. (In sort: verdict first, trial later.)

  • aunursa

    For balance, here are a few responses to the decision from those on the other side of the aisle…

    Breaking: Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of Voting Rights Act

    In other words, the government couldn’t even make an argument that the endemic discrimination that required federal interference in state-level legislative processes still existed. They just argued that because the conditions existed 50 years ago, they might still be a problem today — an argument that lends itself to unlimited exercise. Small wonder the court found this irrational.

    SCOTUS Strikes Down Key Parts of the Voting Rights Act

    Congress used very old voting data when they last reauthorized the VRA in 2006. It seems the Court is saying Congress needs to use better data.

    Expect a big fight on this in Congress and lots of cries of RACISM!

    A Civil-Rights Victory

    Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act forced states that had poor minority registration or turnout numbers in the 1960s to remain in a permanent penalty box from which they were forced to seek Justice Department approval for the most basic of election-law decisions. Its consideration of state requests for election changes was often arbitrary and partisan, as witnessed by the recent smackdown that the DOJ got from a federal court when it tried to block South Carolina’s voter ID law.

  • David S.

    The 15th Amendment gives Congress the broad unfettered power to enforce it. Normally, a law like the 15th Amendment would mean that Supreme Court would have to give broad leeway to Congress, with the question basically being did Congress intend this law to enforce section 1 of the 15th Amendment, to which the answer is clearly yes. With an activist court, however, the Court could feel free to ignore what the Constitution says and rule however it likes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Activist courts? Don’t Republicans normally fulminate at length about them? :P

  • VMink

    Fulminate, calcinate, and combust, yes. Alas, I’ve yet to see them sublimate peacefully.

  • friendly reader

    It isn’t a “permanent penalty box.” As noted in one of the links above, plenty of places have gotten free of VRA restrictions by NOT BEING RACIST.

  • the shepard

    yeah, but that strategy is based on the state’s ability to behave in a non-racist manner.

  • Ben English

    If they can’t do that in 2013, then I say make them permanently subject to VRA laws.

  • Ross Thompson

    It’s worth noting that Texas, having been freed from this unfair penalty box, lasted all of five minutes before passing legislation explicitly designed to stop minorities from voting. Yay judicial activism!

  • Carstonio

    Your sources are playing the sad violins for the states, which is simply another version of fretting more about accusations of racism then about racism itself. It cannot be stressed enough that racism is about effect, not intent. The motive behind things like Voter ID laws ultimately doesn’t matter – if these have a disproportionate impact on minorities, that alone makes these bad laws.

    The Court seems to believe that Congresssional oversight is sufficient to enforce VRA. At best, that ignores the principle that minority rights should not be subject to majority vote. I doubt that any Congress in any era can be trusted to reliably safeguard those rights.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Those quotes would be quite damning, if only every word of them wasn’t a damned lie. As the Congressional record that Chief Justice Roberts didn’t even deign to read shows.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Next time there’s a discussion somewhere that has something to do with the roundness of the earth, I’ll bring up quotes from the Flat Earth Society. For “balance”.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    My teabagging family members have assured me that there’s no way that this will possibly ever be misused, since “all it does is make sure that the Federal government can’t interfere with the vote in this state.” So it’s all good, guys!

    …yeah, I’m not convinced either.

  • DCFem

    Racists always believe that they (and the people just like them) have good intentions. It’s those evil “others” who can’t be trusted. Never mind the fact that just last year (2012, not 1912) there were 17 different discriminatory voting laws stopped by the Department of Justice. You don’t need to look to Reconstruction for examples of discrimination to share with your teabagging relatives, though I seriously doubt they will listen to anything you say.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    As was said on FB earlier, “Getting rid of this law is like throwing away your umbrella because you’ve never been rained on while you were using it.”

  • Eric Boersma

    That’s actually a quote from Jus. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the fantastic dissent on this terrible, terrible ruling.

  • Carstonio

    Whenever the subject of bigotry comes up, particularly systemic discrimination, some folks will attempt to make the issue about themselves and plead benign intentions. Particularly if they have been accused of saying or doing something bigoted. Often they’ll throw the bigot label back at their accusers, or falsely claim that they’re being held accountable for their tribe, Yesterday’s ruling is the same mentality applied at the state level. It’s all about the mistreated, persecuted states being unjustly forced to prove that they’re not bigoted.

    I hope this decision ends up like Plessy v. Ferguson or preferably Dred Scott v. Sandford, as harshly judged by history and overturned sooner or later.

    If the Court turns around and overturns DOMA and Proposition 8, I might instantly suspect political horse-trading among the justices.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I won’t take that bet, ’cause that totally just happened.

  • DCFem

    Thanks for the Omar paraphrasing because that is what’s going to happen. Being denied the right to vote pisses people off. That’s one lesson republicans in Ohio don’t seem to have learned in spite of the overwhelming turn out of black voters in the face of incredible efforts to suppress their votes. Too many of us grew up hearing the words “people died for the right to vote” to not take voting as a life or death issue. Obviously this is a HUGE setback but we cannot give up.

  • Fusina

    As I told my then toddler daughter, women fought and were jailed to get us the right to vote, therefore even when the choice is between dumb and dumber I will vote. I have a franchise and I will Not give it up.

    And I am coming to the conclusion that just as in other careers, there needs to be a retirement age for justices. In Scalia’s case, I think it should have been before he got his law degree. He makes me embarrassed to be Italian.

  • Eric Boersma

    Personally, I have heard, and am fond of, the idea that Justices should be constrained to 18 year terms staggered every four years and not eligible for repetition. This would mean that every presidential election would have the same consequence in terms of appointment, instead of certain Presidents getting five and the next one geting none.

    It also means that we’re not stuck with folks like Scalia for decades but instead can have a Supreme Court that even remotely reflects the attitudes of the times.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Oh come on now, Fusina. I’m half Italian as well. There’s no reason for Scalia’s antics to make you ashamed to be Italian. Instead, be ashamed that _he_ is!

  • Fusina

    Now That sounds like a plan. ;-)

    Although, technically, I only married an Italian. I come from German and Jewish background. I like to think of myself as one more thorn in Hitler’s side… since my parents met and married considerably after WW2.

  • http://checkpoint-telstar.blogspot.com/ Tim Lehnerer

    The Left needs to start registering voters now, and raising funds to get people to the polling stations now. Buses, individual car rides, vans, at least something to address the issue. Then, in 2014, hopefully we can have some kind of street theater where food carts bring sandwiches and lemonade to people stuck in a voting line for eleven hours. Get that on the evening news and keep your sense of humor about it, and you can strike an amazing blow or two in the court of public opinion.

  • Carstonio

    Although Baby Raptor may be right that the goal was perpetuating GOP power, ultimately this isn’t a Left versus Right issue. It’s about making sure that majorities cannot impede the voting rights of minorities, no matter how either type of group is constituted. Hundreds of years from now, the ethnic groups in the US could be very different, but the principle would still apply.

  • http://checkpoint-telstar.blogspot.com/ Tim Lehnerer

    That’s true, but in 2013 (and in 1965) it was the conservative Right trying to annihilate the rights of people who tended to vote Left.

  • chrisalgoo

    Has there ever been a case where Leftists suppressed votes?

  • Carstonio

    Offhand I don’t know of any. My point is that any group in a position of power, no matter what its political philosophy or composition, is capable of abusing that power. This would apply if leftists had a majority and rightists didn’t. The principles in the Constitution have to apply equally to all citizens for them to have any meaning.

  • The_L1985

    Not in the US, though I’d be pretty damned surprised if something of the sort weren’t still happening in Russia. I doubt most people actually wanted to vote for Putin.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    In Russia, Putin is on the right-wing end of the spectrum (he’s very leftist compared to American politicians, of course, but the major opposition in Russia is to his left).

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Well, if you go far enough back, the parties switched positions on a lot of social roles, so it depends on how you define “the Left.” If you mean “Democrats,” then yes, absolutely. If you mean “progressives,” then… doubtful.

  • Lorehead

    During Reconstruction, when the former Confederate states were still under military occupation, there was voter suppression on both sides of the civil rights debate. Note that I do not say, equally.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I was on SCOTUSblog when that decision came down.

    I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I have become very aware in the intervening hours.

    And all I really have to say is Fuck those Justices. They just ensured that the GOTea will continue winning elections.

    What the balls are we gonna do now?

  • P J Evans

    One thing I’m going to do is keep voting against them.

  • FearlessSon

    And all I really have to say is Fuck those Justices. They just ensured that the GOTea will continue winning elections.

    For several of the justices, I suspect that was exactly the point.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The closest thing to a silver lining here is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion, which absolutely savages both the majority opinion and the BS spin surrounding it (see aunursa’s post above for examples; every word in the quotes he posted is a pants-on-fire lie). Justice willing, it will serve as the basis for a better decision in the future.
    In the immediate, though, it falls upon Congress to quickly pass a new formula to replace section 4(b) and nip these new Jim Crow laws in the bud. (Not that that’s likely to happen, but I can dream…)

  • Jessica_R


  • AliciaB

    The most amusing aspect of this ruling is that it calls on Congress to come up with a new formula to enforce section 5 of the VRA. This is the same Congress that routinely fails to pass a budget and blames President Obama for not twisting their arms quite hard enough as if he is their father or their nanny rather than their partner.

    You can’t really blame the Court for that though; if Congress is defective, it’s because voters choose defective people for office on a routine basis. (See also – the case in Texas where the woman rep was filibustering yet another abortion restriction and the legislators tried to play a trick apparently after they failed to stop her.)

  • J_Enigma32

    There’s a neat polling trick that gets played regarding this.

    If you poll people on their opinion on Congress, Congress as a whole is often extremely unpopular.


    If you poll people on their opinion of their local Congresscritter, it’s usually very higher.

    So what you have is a paradox: Congresscritters almost nationwide poll higher than the Congress that they serve in. The problem, then, is “everyone else’s congresscritter.”

    A mirror of this thinking can be found in the global warming/climate change “debate.” The common retort is “Last year was the coldest year in [x] years IN THE UNITED STATES, ergo, GLOBAL warming doesn’t exist! Check, Liberal!”

  • David S.

    I don’t see where that’s a paradox. If you think locally, your congresscritter is the one bringing home the bacon for your district and is more likely to be pushing for ideas you like. The other congresscritters are trying to take home the bacon for their districts and is likely to be pushing for political ideas popular in their districts and not yours.

  • Madhabmatics

    Roberts knows Congress won’t pass a new formula, which is why he fought so hard to strike it. In this case you actually can blame the court (Or at least the members of the court that went along with Roberts.)

  • chrisalgoo

    Hey! Hey everyone! DOMA’s done! It’s a tiny ray of light amidst all the judicial and legistlative @#$#.


    The evangelical tears will be delicious.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    This just in: The Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court’s ruling against California’s Proposition 8!

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    So, the Supreme Court. Sometimes it does things that we think are terrible. Sometimes it does things that we think are great. But… overall, I think it is not something that belongs in a modern democracy, as it is instituted now.

    Here’s what I think: Justices’ terms need to be shortened. They need to go through some process other than presidential appointment. And they need to exist for a reason other than to interpret a document that is well over 200 years old.

  • Charby

    How would you achieve the first two goals (without undermining the notion of judicial independence), and how would you achieve the last one without scrapping judicial review?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I don’t know. I am not the entire populous of the United States, after a long discussion of the different issues involved. It needs to change, but the exact way in which that is to be accomplished is not something I am going to pretend to have all the answers to.

    Though I will say that the notion of judicial independence is pretty much bollocks anyway, as has been proven by the extreme political slant of certain of the justices. As for the second one, it’s not like the concept of judicial review must be completely and totally tied to slavishly following a document that is well over 200 years old.

  • J_Enigma32

    Indeed, Judicial Review isn’t even IN the document, explicitly speaking.

    Judicial Review was something that the supreme court awarded themselves during Marbury v. Madison (although it was derived from Article III and Article IV of the Constitution itself as an “implied power”.) Because of this, Judicial Review is, unsurprisingly, a common target for the people on the Right. All it’d take to end it is a single amendment to the Constitution saying “Articles III and IV are not about Judicial Review.” Then a stacked Congress and White House would have free run without the courts to reign them in.

    The Constitution is supposed to be, and is designed to be, a living document that adapts and changes with the times. That’s why the amendment process exists; the Constitution isn’t where the problem’s at in this process. The problem is that we have a rather large and demented segment of the population that are damn determined to not adapt to ANYTHING beyond the “Leave it to Beaver”/”Mad Men” fan fic they’ve authored over actual history and, as a result, they’ve engendered a type of tribal hyperpartisanship that’s damaging and rotting everything like a bad infection.THAT’S the problem.

  • David S.

    Washington delivered a bill to the Supreme Court before signing it to ask about its constitutionality, and was surprised when they wouldn’t rule on it. So judicial review in some sense goes back to Washington.

  • Lori

    Shortening the terms would be easy in the sense that all you have to do is have an amendment that says that terms are for X years or until age X, instead of lifetime appointments. It would be impossible in the sense that you’d never get that Amendment passed in the current political climate & I have no idea when or if that will change.

    In theory we could also change straight presidential appointment fairly easily. Maybe by including some sort of nonpartisan group to create a pool of possible candidates & then the president picks from that pool. In practice that’s obviously never going to happen, for multiple reasons.

    SCOTUS exists for the purpose of interpreting the Constitution and there’s no way to change that unless we just say that we’re throwing out the Constitution as the basis of our laws. Clearly that’s a no.

  • P J Evans

    It used to be that the American Bar Association made a recommendation on the quality of the candidates, which was generally taken into consideration by the President and Congress, but after some of the GOP’s candidates were described as ‘unqualified’ they stopped listening to the ABA.

  • Lorehead

    Actually, they rated Clarence Thomas “qualified” instead of “well-qualified,” which was understood as damning him with faint praise.

  • Michele

    I am *ecstatic* about DOMA; but I’m really afraid that that victory will distract too many people from the “ok, now what do we do?!?” about the Voting Rights Act. And I have to think that, in a democracy, the right to vote is even more precious than the right to have my marriage respected by the Federal government. :/

  • LL

    I actually share Roberts’ palpable disrespect for Congress, but probably not for the same reasons.

    What’s dismaying is, the Court has to be aware of various efforts in various states to suppress non-white voting. So clearly, the states in which that occurs haven’t learned any lessons. They’re not less racist, they’re just using different means to do what they’ve always tried to do: keep non-white people from voting. So the rationale for the decision doesn’t even pass the common sense test.

    FFS, we even have politicians and their bosses (rich white people) saying it out loud: they don’t want black and Latino people to vote. How much more explicit can they be? Regardless of their motivation, deliberately trying to keep people from voting is the opposite of American (the ideals, anyway) and constitutional.

    I’ve always viewed these people (racists, and especially southern racists) as traitors. They actually hate the ideals of America. And they certainly hate the Constitution. And they obviously hate freedom. They always have.

  • VMink

    I watched the filibuster last night, or at least the last couple of hours when they had become mired in the question of how the sonogram bill is germane to the abortion clinic restriction bill — a no-brainer for most people, but the pro-forced-birth crowd really wanted to shut up and shut down Davis. They failed; the debates about germane-ness turned into a filibuster of its own. But it also underlined how far the forced-birth proponents were willing to go.

    The president of the senate steamrolled over at least one senator. Watson was arguing about how the sonogram bill was, in fact, germane (and why the president’s decision that it was not germane should be appealed and reversed.) And the POTS simply called up one of the pro-forced-birth feckless cowards who moved to deny the appeal. Five other senators supporting the question; passed, debate over, move on.

    Things went downhill much faster from there.

    The POTS cut mikes. That’s the only reason I can see why a senator would stand up and ask him point-blank why he ignored her. He fecklessly repeated that he had not recognized her (i.e. either had not heard her, or had heard her and refused to recognize her.) And at that point, ten minutes to midnight, Van De Putte gave the last coherent, recognizable statement of the session:

    “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?”

    The gallery exploded, and it did not stop exploding. It was, effectively, a citizens’ filibuster and it lasted past midnight.

    The POTS asked for order. The POTS picked up the gavel. He could have had the gallery cleared. He could have ordered the state troopers to push everyone out. He could have banged the gavel, the simplest sign of insisting on order (he had already done it earlier.) But he did not. He chose not to. He has no ground to stand on when he says that the crowd were unruly and disruptive because of all the people in the room he had the power and authority to stop the commotion. He chose not to do so.

    Which is another thing: There were no threats shouted. There was just cheering. It was raucous, yes, but nobody made threats, nobody was more disruptive than shouting and cheering after Van De Putte’s comment.

    But still a few minutes after midnight the gutless cowards said it had passed. Even though the record and the board in the chamber said it was after midnight, even though no formal vote had been taken. Worse, not long after… the record was changed. (And the so-called “liberal media” is utterly complicit in allowing this lie to gain any sort of traction, after an evening of news about muffins and the Kardashians’ shenanigans.)

    Fortunately, there were many, many screenshots, cell-phone photos, and records that said the vote had passed after midnight, even after the jackholes tried to change the official records. Remember this, everyone! The only reason they grumpily admitted the bill had not passed was because they were caught changing official records. They were trying to re-write history in the most literal sense. Over a hundred and eighty thousand people watched that livestream of the filibuster and still the classless, immoral, unethical forced-birth proponents tried to lie, cheat, and swindle to get things their way in a petulant temper tantrum.

    The Texas State Senate may not be the same ever again. A lot of bad blood was spilled that night, and I’m starting to believe that it needed spilling.

    And in the coming days, remember too: A filibuster is a perfectly legitimate tool of the demoacratic process until OH WAIT A WOMAN IS USING IT DO NOT WANT!

  • SisterCoyote

    The amount of self-control the pro-choice parts of the legislature showed was stunning. I came in late – just after the long mute on the [last] parliamentary session – so Watson was the first long argument I saw live, and my God, the amount of rage in that chamber as people realized the anti-choicers were just going to steamroll them was nothing short of inspiring.

    Sheer disbelief as they literally tried to rewrite history before hundreds of thousands of witnesses. There had better be some fucking consequences for that.

  • VMink

    I doubt there will be. In fact I imagine the governor is going to try to pull some shenanigans himself today.

  • P J Evans

    Actually, they cut the mikes every time they went into a discussion of the rules. It wasn’t just once. Beckwits.

  • VMink

    Yes, I noticed that as well. The more I see of what was going on with that, the more I become convinced that it was less about pro-forced-birth (though that was a part of it) and more about just doing their best to stick it to those uppity progressives.

  • LL

    See, this is why I yap about voting. Voting in all elections (I voted in a city runoff election a few weeks ago), not just the “important” ones (like for president).

    If more minorities voted, if more younger people voted, the Texas legislature wouldn’t be as full of old white male assholes as it is. All voting is important. It doesn’t do much good to bitch about the morons in various legislatures doing things you don’t like if you didn’t bother to vote in the elections that put them there. If you think the old white racists are suddenly going to see the light and realize they’ve been wrong all this time, maybe you’re too dumb to vote anyway. They’re not gonna get better. Appealing to their principles doesn’t work, they don’t have any. The only way to beat them is to outnumber them at the polls.

    It was nice to see a legislator in Texas willing to stand up for the right of an adult to make her own medical decisions. Too bad there aren’t more of them. The behavior of the Republicans in the Texas legislature is appalling. They are terrible people. And Rick Perry is a terrible governor. And Ted Cruz is a terrible senator, but we’re stuck with him for at least 6 more years, thanks to the voters of Texas.

  • FearlessSon

    If more minorities voted, if more younger people voted, the Texas legislature wouldn’t be as full of old white male assholes as it is.

    Which is why those old white male assholes pushed measures that would have been impossible under the VRA as soon as it was struck down. They know that they would be out of a job if lots of minorities and young people vote, and they very much do not want that.

  • J_Enigma32

    And that’s how it’s supposed to be. A democracy requires constant, endless commitment by the population in question. You can’t just say “well, I’ll only vote this time…”

    Vote is very much “use it or lose it.” You use it every time or you’ll find you won’t have it anymore.

    This intensive type of government requires a very informed and educated population, the majority of whom are well off enough that they can spend the energies in the fields of politics and are willing to embrace that EVERYTHING in a democracy has the potential to become political. These people have be well off enough that they can venture out and take the risk of learning more about politics, because they’re set in most other ways and they no longer have to work to meet their basics; if you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, “democracy” isn’t on the list. Most, if not all, of those needs need to be filled before you can have anything remotely resembling a healthy, functional democracy. It requires the people recognize that THEY are the government, not some alien, Cthuloid entity in Washington.

    Now, reread that last paragraph. A well-educated, well-cared for, well-informed population with all of their basic needs met that accepts they are the government, they are responsible for it’s functioning, and they’re involved constantly to make that happen. That sure sounds like the United States, doesn’t it?

  • SisterCoyote

    Meanwhile, as my friend back in Boston points out, Zimmerman may be acquitted by a jury that includes no black jurors, and if he is, the East Coast is going to be in flames.

    It’s a fine day to be an American.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino


    The right-wing gun fantasizers are already salivating over the idea that it’ll trigger off a racial “civil” war*.

    * They say civil war, but they are actually hoping black people get mad enough to fire the first shot and give them an excuse to waste all that ammo they’ve been stockpiling since Obama became President.

  • SisterCoyote

    I’m terrified for my friends back East. I hope it doesn’t come to that. But then, I hope the man gets slammed for it. I don’t understand how anyone can look at the murder of Trayvon Martin and see anything but a murder. My dad went on and on about how he was actually seventeen, not a child, and he’d been suspended from school possibly, and maybe he hit Zimmerman physically, and blah blah blah – he was walking home from a store with a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea, and he got shot and killed for looking suspicious.

    That’s murder.

    Recently on Tumblr, there were a handful of stories going on about a cop who shot and killed a girl – what, six or seven years old? because the police burst into the wrong apartment and her grandmother was with her, and he got off the charges, too. I don’t know anymore. Thomas Jefferson was an asshole, and I would normally cringe to reference him, but maybe we need a few riots.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My only consolation is that for all that these folks like to live as heroes in their own minds shooting fixed targets at gun ranges, shooting human beings is a whole ‘nother matter and they will probably aim wide a lot more than they hit the black per- er, criminal*.

    * Watch how many times these folks conjure up the boogeyman of the criminal as a coded reference to race.

  • DCFem

    That killing (of 7 year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones) was actually caught on tape. The raid the officers were carrying out was part of filming an episode of the “First 48” in Detroit. It was never aired (obviously) but everyone in the court room saw it so the fact that the case ended in a mistrial is kind of disturbing.

    I try to remain hopeful that the jury for Zimmerman keeps asking the question I’ve been asking since February of 2012, “Why the hell did he get out of his car?”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Or the one I linked, where a man’s Life Alert beeper went off in the middle of the night and the police broke into his home and murdered him while yelling racial epithets and then subsequently lying repeatedly on every documentation about why they did it.

    Apparently no one saw any reason to bring it to court.

  • VMink

    Some jackholes have been reading The Turner Diaries, it seems.

  • DavidCheatham

    I have a rather odd question:

    Section 3 of the VRA is still intact, and still allows courts to impose pre-clearance on jurisdictions that have committed constitutional violations. Right?

    So can this be applied to jurisdiction that attempted laws but were blocked from doing so under section 5?

    In other words, the courts _already_ found a lot of section-five-listed jurisdictions attempting to block minorities from voting, right. That they then blocked.

    Can that that _blocking_ be used as prima faca evidence if the jurisdiction was sued under section three? If the requirement to be in a section-three-list is ‘attempting to violation the rights of minorities’, and there are a bunch of court decisions that said ‘This law you’ve attempted to pass violates the rights of minorities’, shouldn’t that pretty much automatically put them on the section-three list if someone were to bother to file that lawsuit?

    And if not used in _general_, can it be used in _specific instances_? Texas, for example, literally just presented a plan that courts _have already said_ is impermissible.

    As the courts have already ruled that it _is_ a violation of minority civil rights, can someone not file a lawsuit under section three and not only get the law struck down immediately (The law as to what is _permissable_ didn’t change, the only thing that changed is just that preclearance is not required.), and additionally put Texas _on the section-three-list_?