— Bruce – GayPatriot (@GayPatriot) June 26, 2013
A democratic republic is not honest or fair unless it upholds the principle of “one person, one vote”. All Americans should want to uphold that principle, strictly.
But not all do. Both historically and today, some may benefit from the principle’s two enemies: discrimination and fraud. How do we best combat both discrimination and fraud, in our voting processes?
The Supreme Court has just struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Superficially it sounds like some people could have just lost their voting rights or something, and Yahoo!’s coverage starts out in a mournful tone. But let’s consider the substance, on both sides.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, reauthorized by Congress for an additional 25 years in 2006, gives the federal government the ability to pre-emptively reject changes to election law in states and counties that have a history of discriminating against minority voters. The law covers nine states and portions of seven more, most of them in the South. The formula used to decide which states are subject to this special scrutiny (set out in Section 4 of the law) is based on decades-old voter turnout and registration data, the justices ruled, which is unfair…[because] many of these states now have near-equal voter turnout rates between minorities and whites.
“The coverage formula that Congress reauthorized in 2006 ignores these developments, keeping the focus on decades-old data relevant to decades-old problems,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion. “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
The Justice Department used Section 5 of the law to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina last year…
The court has effectively now put the ball back in Congress’ court, writing in its decision that it is up to Congress to write a new formula that is based on current data. States or counties that fit the new formula could still be subject to federal “preclearance” of changes to their elections procedures…
The story there seems to be: In the 60s, they were justly worried about discrimination and passed a law giving the federal government a great deal of power over some States. Today, fifty years later, much (if not most) of the discrimination problem has receded, the States are worried about fraud, and have begun to pass voter ID laws to combat fraud. The Obama administration has used the 1965 law aggressively to block those fraud-fighting efforts. And Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a SCOTUS majority, has just said to knock it off; do a fresh study of the real problem.
For completeness, let’s look at Justice Ginsburg’s objections. The Yahoo! article continues:
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes the “sad irony” of Roberts’ decision is that it strikes down the key part of the Voting Rights Act because it has been so successful at preventing racial discrimination. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” she writes. Ginsburg also slams the court’s majority for relying on turnout and registration rates “as if that were the whole story” and ignoring so-called second-generation laws and regulations designed to make it harder for minorities to vote…
But Roberts didn’t throw out preclearance; he only said, re-validate its basis to make sure it’s fair, before you use it again. Ginsburg’s imagery, of throwing out your umbrella in a rainstorm, is vivid but possibly misplaced. She assumes that we live in a racial “rainstorm” whose intensity is virtually unchanged from the 1950s/60s. But if that were so, we would not have an African-American President.
On the above information, I’m with Roberts: while problems of discrimination may remain, and any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress should indeed take a fresh look at the real problem. Congress should not make a lazy assumption that this is still the 1950s or 60s, nor that efforts to fight the problem of voter fraud must automatically be illegitimate.
Rand Paul’s filibuster ended yesterday, after 13 hours. Neither Bruce nor I were clear on how to turn off GP’s post that was counting it, so…it’s gone. We executed it (so to speak). But where did America end up?
- Before: A poll showed that fully 41% of Democrats think the president should be able to order pre-emptive drone strikes on American soil without review or oversight (that is, “on his own” in the poll’s wording).
- After: The Democrat-led Senate has refused to pass this resolution, “Expressing the sense of the Senate against the use of drones to execute Americans on American soil”.
I think that means: according to the Senate, if Obama decides that you are a “suspected terrorist”, he could execute you and your family in a drone strike on your home. At least, the question is open. Obama’s America, Forward!
UPDATE (from the comments): heliotrope informs us that Senator Paul has just received a letter from Attorney General Holder, writing that the president does NOT “have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil.” That’s better.
Sometimes you find someone who summarizes a situation so well, the nest way to comment on the story is to quote him. And so it is with this excerpt from Thomas Sowell’s piece in the National Review:
The man who shot the black teenager in Florida may be as guilty as sin, for all I know — or he may be innocent. We pay taxes so that there can be judges and jurors who sort out the facts. We do not need Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or the president of the United States spouting off before the trial has even begun. Have we forgotten the media’s rush to judgment in the Duke University “rape” case that blew up completely when the facts came out?
If the facts show that a teenager who was no threat to anyone was shot and killed, it will be time to call for the death penalty. But if the facts show that the shooter was innocent, then it will be time to call for people in the media and in politics to keep their big mouths shut until they know what they are talking about.
Playing with racial polarization is playing with fire. . . .Race hustlers who stir up paranoia and belligerence are doing no favor to minority youngsters. There is no way to know how many of these youngsters’ confrontations with the police or others in authority have been needlessly aggravated by the steady drumbeat of racial hype they have been bombarded with.
H/t: WSJ.com’s Political Diary (available by subscription)
Every time I check the blogs, I learn new information about the case, about the actual incident, about the young man and about the man who shot him. The more I learn, the more complex the case becomes. As more details emerge, I am reminded of one of the greatest plays of classical Greece, Aeschylus’s Eumenides which begins with the Furies seeking vengeance on Orestes for killing Clytmenestra his mother his mother. Soon, the goddess Athene arrives and acknowledges that the Furies have a case.
Before the matter is to be resolved, she wants to hear both sides and wants to make sure the facts are weighed in a dispassionate manner — before a court of Athenian citizens.
So too should those who determine the fate of Mr. Zimmerman: weigh the facts, all the facts, dispassionately. (more…)