Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's obnoxious remark Wednesday about the Voting Rights Act as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement" wasn't the half of it.
Scalia is often held up by self-described "conservatives" as a model jurist, setting the standard for the type of "strict constructionism" or "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution that Republicans would like to see more of on the bench.
Jurists like Scalia, the pretend argument goes, are the antidote to those "liberal activist judges" who don't appreciate the limited authority of the judicial branch and who abuse their position in order to usurp the power of the executive and/or legislative branches by -- gasp! -- "legislating from the bench!"
Wednesday's shameful display by Scalia, however, during the Shelby v. Holder hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, on whether or not Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) ought to be discontinued, should serve to put the bald hypocrisy of that entire Republican myth to bed for good. The Supreme Court Justice beloved by the hard right demonstrated exactly why that hard right loves him -- and it has nothing to do with "conservatism" or "judicial restraint" or "strict constructionism" or any of those other absurd partisan talking points bandied about in regard to Scalia...
The case out of Shelby County, AL was brought before SCOTUS by wealthy Rightwing activists who hope to use it to finally gut the section of the VRA which requires all or parts of 16 states, predominantly in the South, largely due to their long history of racial discrimination, to receive pre-clearance for all new election-related laws from either a federal court or the U.S. Dept. of Justice before they can be put into practice.
Section 5 is part of a nearly 50-year old bi-partisan bill that almost all observers, Right, Left and otherwise, see as a smashing success to date. Even the bulk of those on today's Supreme Court who now oppose all or parts of the Act, recognize that it has been the cornerstone of civil rights law in this country for half a century and has done a remarkable job of restoring equal justice for many after the long and insidious evils of slavery and the more than a century of racism and disenfranchisement that followed it.
So popular is this law that when it was most recently re-authorized for another 25 years in 2006, it was supported 98 to 0 -- 98 to 0! -- in the U.S. Senate, after a 10 month process of hearings and deliberation in the U.S. House as led by the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
So there was a loud chorus of gasps, literal and otherwise, in the wake of Scalia's offensive and inaccurate remark during Wednesday's hearing when he charged that the Voting Rights Act, presumably Section 5 specifically, but he was speaking of the bill in its entirety at the time, served as little more than a "perpetuation of racial entitlement."
Offensive and inaccurate as that comment on its own might have been, there was much -- much -- more wrong with his commentary, almost all of which serves to absolutely destroy the notion that Scalia represents the type of jurisprudence that either he or his supporters claim.