Saturday, June 29, 2013

Voting Rights Decision Showing Repercussions

The Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of striking down section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is already showing repercussions

Just two hours after the Supreme Court announced its ruling, Texas (one of the nine flagged states) responded by declaring they would be “immediately” enacting their Voter ID law that a panel of federal judges previously ruled would cause “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” North Carolina is also following suit by moving forward with their Voter ID bill. Chief Justice John Roberts supported his decision by explaining, “nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.” Yes, things have changed, but racism is still alive and well in America. A study done by Richard J. Timpone found that the Voting Rights Act was responsible for the sharp increase in African-America voters (in Mississippi specifically). This is the generally accepted idea: the act was extremely successful in deterring discrimination in the voting system. However, if things have changed so dramatically, as the Chief Justice claims, why is it that since 2000 the Department of Justice has objected changes to voting laws in these nine states seventy-four times. The Voting Rights Act had a huge impact on voting in the South throughout the past decades. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg compared the decision against section 5 to “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” We are throwing away the one thing that made such change possible. This was not an easy bill to pass; people fought and some even died for it. After all, flagged states did have the option to opt out of the Act if they’ve had a “clean” ten years and didn’t violate any of the VRA. The good news is, the Supreme Court did leave the opportunity for the section to be amended, but that would have to be voted on by Congress.

By student contributor Carly Hanson

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