ANOTHER SUPREME OUTRAGE
POLITE FASCISM CONTRACTS
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Indiana Democratic Party, et al., Petitioners 07-25 v. Todd Rokita,
Indiana Secretary of State, et al.
U. S. ____ ( 2008 ) Opinion of STEVENS, J.
"Scoop" Independent News
They wear their robes but leave the hoods off, the polite justices of the Supreme Court. They write decisions then issue them in a formal setting, behind the columns of a capitol monument, with a history that confers a dignity not deserved. The Court embodies the dilemma of our modern culture. The most awful acts are committed with bland justification by polite people who hide behind institutional trappings; for the sake of the few, at the expense of the many.
When a vital right is denied to any group or class of citizens, the people suffer a great loss. They must endure mean spirited laws put forward as rational policy then contend with the dual reality of apparently legitimate institutions conducting blatantly illegitimate attacks on the people. Brutal bigots and snarling attack dogs have been replaced with somnolent justices affirming the outrages of smiling politicians and the bureaucrats who follow their orders. The net result is the quiet evisceration of our most important rights in a manner that puts the people into a light trance of continual acceptance.
The struggle for voting rights in the 1960's represents one of the finest periods in our nation's history. There was a rapid awakening to the decades of harsh reality endured by black citizens in the South. Most startling to the majority, unaware of this culture of injustice, was the near total absence of the right to vote for black citizens.
The issue of voting rights was and is fundamental to our political consciousness. The blatant violation of those rights, the effort to keep almost all black citizens from voting, created a national outrage. Unaffordable poll taxes just to vote, "literacy" tests arbitrarily administered to fail members of one race only, frequent intimidation at the polls, and the other flagrant indignities provided an immediate education to those who read, watched and listened. This generated broad support for voting rights legislation to expand the franchise to all citizens.
Most of those who had the rights were unable to tolerate the outrages they saw inflicted on their fellow citizens. Those who endured the violations laid down their bodies; risked and gave their lives. They would no longer tolerate the attack on their very existence as men and women of equal stature from those who abused them.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed with overwhelming majorities in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. It was sponsored in the Senate by the Republican leader, and was implemented with a certainty and clarity that shocked the perpetrators of a fraudulent election system. Voting rights did not confer the benefits of social justice. However, those rights did move to correct a key systemic inequality of political participation.
We were awake as a nation for a brief period, unified in the demand for the right to vote. The struggle to expand the franchise has been ongoing throughout our history from white male property owners to all white males. For a period after the Civil War, both black and white males voted until white supremacy regained control in the old South. The women's suffrage movement was the last major expansion of the franchise before the great civil rights movement of the 1960's and beyond which demanded voting rights for blacks and then Latinos.
A new trend has emerged, one that takes the nation back to the post-Reconstruction period of the 1880's when black citizens lost their recently gained right to vote and participate in civic life.