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Supreme Court takes its (first) shot at the Voting Rights Act

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 3/10/09

Bush & Co. may be gone, and few Americans may ever want them back; and the Republicans may be dispersed and howling in the wilderness; but if you think they're done, you'd better think again, because, as ever, they are hard at work subverting the electoral process in order to ensure themselves more "victories" on Election Days to come.
Here, for example, is a piece about the first step by the Supreme Court--i.e., the Bush Quintuplets on that bench--toward evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, which has variously served to slow the party's onward slouch. By the time Roberts et al. are done with it, that law will offer merely nominal protection of democracy, somewhat like the Stalin Constitution.
Nor is this the only front on which the GOP intends to "rise again," as the expression has it. While Obama and his party sleep, the GOP is also passing voter ID laws throughout the states, so as to disenfranchise still more Democrats and independents (and rational Republicans), and thereby to retain sufficient power to keep the nation, and the planet, hurtling down the most disastrous path.
And, as ever, the  Republicans are out there charging that the  Democrats are stealing votes--Michael Steele now charging that Al Franken stole Norm Coleman's Senate seat, as if it weren't Team Coleman that did everything they could to steal the race from Franken (who, as usual, and like most of his fellow partisans, wouldn't even notice it, much less mention it).
Forget the Democrats  and the Republicans. It's way past time for all real democrats and real republicans to face the truth about American elections--including the most recent one, which Pres. Obama won by a far larger margin than we think.
MCM
 

Court Refuses to Expand Minority Voting Rights

Monday 09 March 2009
by: Mark Sherman   |  Visit article original @ The Associated Press

http://www.truthout.org/031009M
    Washington - The Supreme Court limited the reach of the Voting Rights Act on Monday, a decision that could make it harder for some minority candidates to win election when voting districts are redrawn.

    In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that the law cannot be used to create voting districts favorable to the election of minority candidates unless at least half the population is minority.

    The decision could make it more difficult for Democrats, particularly in the South and Southwest, to draw electoral boundaries friendly to black or Hispanic candidates following the 2010 Census.

    With the court's conservatives in the majority, the court ruled that North Carolina erred when trying to preserve the influence of African-American voters even though they made up just 39 percent of the population in a state legislative district.

    While not a majority, the black voters were numerous enough to effectively determine the outcome of elections, the state argued in urging the court to extend the civil rights law's provision to the district.


    The state said the district should be protected by the section of the law that bars states from reducing the chance for minorities to "elect representatives of their choice."

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, announcing the court's judgment, said the court had never extended the law to those so-called crossover districts and would not do so now. The 50 percent rule "draws clear lines for courts and legislatures alike," Kennedy said in ruling against the North Carolina district.

    In 2007, the North Carolina Supreme Court had struck down the district, saying the Voting Rights Act applies only to districts with a numerical majority of minority voters. The district also violated a provision of the state constitution keeping district boundaries from crossing county lines, the court said.

    Kennedy said that, absent prohibitions like North Carolina's rule against crossing county lines, "states that wish to draw crossover districts are free to do so." But they are not required, he said.

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito signed onto Kennedy's opinion. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome of the case.

    The four liberal justices dissented. A district like the one in North Carolina should be protected by federal law "so long as a cohesive minority population is large enough to elect its chosen candidate when combined with a reliable number of crossover voters from an otherwise polarized majority," Justice David Souter wrote for himself and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens.

    Ginsburg also suggested that Congress could amend the law to cover districts like the one in North Carolina.

    Civil rights groups that urged the court to uphold the North Carolina plan said such districts help to diminish racially polarized voting over time because the candidate who is the choice of black or Hispanic voters must draw some white support to win election.

    In April, the court will hear a more significant challenge to another provision of the Voting Rights Act, requiring all or parts of 16 states with a history of racial discrimination to get approval before implementing any changes in how elections are held.

    The court's familiar ideological split in this case strongly suggests that Kennedy could hold the key to the outcome in the April case as well, said Nathaniel Persily, an election law expert at Columbia University.

    In another election-related case, the court let stand an appeals court decision that invalidated state laws regulating the ways independent presidential candidates can get on state ballots.

    Arizona, joined by 13 other states, asked the court to hear its challenge to a ruling throwing out its residency requirement for petition circulators and a June deadline for submitting signatures for independent candidates in the November presidential elections.

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Mark's new book, Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, a collection 14 essays on Bush/Cheney's election fraud since (and including) 2000, is just out, from Ig Publishing. He is also the author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform, which is now out in paperback (more...)
 

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