Our democracy was under siege even before the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act. This decision caps the Court's clean sweep on behalf of the United States Chamber of Commerce and is part of a concerted effort to seize democracy on behalf of moneyed interests.
It's a mistake to view this decision in isolation. It's part of an ongoing, corporate-backed constitutional coup.
We could decide the forces of greed are too powerful, and give up. But in a few weeks the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. The dream of full and equal rights is no more impossible now than it was then.
The question isn't one of possibility, but of our own commitment.
Our democratic process was broken even before this week's ruling. For proof of that we need only review the results of the 2012 Congressional election, where Republicans retained control of the House despite losing the popular vote by more than a million votes.
From voter ID laws to the targeting of minorities for removal from voting rolls, the war against equal rights and democracy goes on. Minorities, especially in the South, are still a target for gerrymandering. "Red" and "blue" voting patterns, which are a useful proxy for minority presence in many states, illustrate just how segregated our nation remains:
The gerrymandering and dirty politics behind that unrepresentative outcome just got a huge boost from the Court's decision, which removed any obstacles to these kinds of assaults on the voting rights of minorities. From Citizens United to Shelby County v. Holder, this Supreme Court has spearheaded an era of unprecedented judicial activism on behalf of corporations' and wealthy individuals' constitutional coup against democracy.
Jim Crow, meet the Koch Brothers.
You have to give them this: They were smart, they were ruthless, and they had a long-range plan. First, they built a cadre of radicalized and ideologically indoctrinated lawyers through organizations like the Federalist Society. These lawyers were pre-radicalized and prepared to receive judgeships whenever conservatives gained power and appointed them.
Those judgeships began flowing to right-wing extremists with the election of Ronald Reagan as president. In retrospect, that adds a bitter overtone to Reagan's racially charged decision to give the first speech of his winning candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a city known only for the murder of three civil rights workers in 1963. That was widely interpreted at the time as a message to white Southern racists.
In retrospect, it was a message to the rest of us, too.
Second, they engaged in a long-term and classically Orwellian propaganda campaign in which classical jurisprudence -- the interpretation of Constitutional principles in light of changing world events -- was characterized as "judicial activism." Real judicial activism, on behalf of Big Money, was characterized as more impartial and reasonable. (Think of it as the legal version of Fox News calling itself "Fair and Balanced.")