Here's the other shoe dropping--the first one having dropped three years ago, when the House Republicans, and Bush, renewed the Voting Rights Act, and in so doing made a big show of their "pragmatism" vis-a-vis black voters.
"The Republicans want to take the issue off the table for the 2006 elections and avoid a repeat of 1982, when the Reagan administration fought with a Democratic-controlled Congress over an expansion of the law," reported msnbc.com. "Today's political climate is much different. Republicans strategists are making a determined pitch to black voters, and top-tier black Republican candidates are coming to the fore, offering a chance to reshape the party's image."
Such was the credulous assessment not just of the press, but even of staunch Democratic champions of civil rights, like Rep. John Lewis: "The Republicans are reaching out to the African-American voters," he said. "They want to make a dent with the black electorate, take some of those voters away from the Democratic side."
That last statement was quite true, but not as Lewis meant it. The GOP had been, was then, and still is zealously committed to a vast rollback of minority voting rights (except, of course, for the minority that keeps on voting for the GOP). And so there has, in fact, been no "determined pitch" or "reaching out" to African-Americans, but only the repeated claim that such a drive is underway. It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that such a propaganda claim would be confirmed by mainstream journalists and liberal Democrats, who've thereby helped the GOP obscure its efforts to "make a dent"--a huge dent-- in "the black electorate" (and in the Hispanic electorate, the student electorate, the labor electorate, the Native American electorate, and so on).
Back in 2005/6, the question on all minds was whether the Republicans would renew the act in its entirety, or strip out Section 5. To everyone's (naive) surprise, they finally took the former course--and lots of credit, undeserved, for having seen the light. And now we're seeing the Roberts Court prepare to do, in their illustrious chambers, what those canny legislators had the brains to keep from doing right out in the open: Section 5
is evidently doomed.
And this not the only step that the Republicans are taking to ensure themselves another too-good showing on the next Election Day. And they'll keep taking such illicit steps--and many of those steps will be successful--if we don't wake up and start demanding real reform of our elections.
p.s. Below the Times article, there's an alert from the National Campaign for Fair Elections.
April 30, 2009
Skepticism at the Court on Validity of Vote Law
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON - A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to protect minorities in states with a history of discrimination, is at substantial risk of being struck down as unconstitutional, judging from the questioning on Wednesday at the Supreme Court.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose vote is likely to be crucial, was a vigorous participant in the argument, asking 17 questions that were almost consistently hostile to the approach Congress had taken to renewing the act in 2006.
"Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio," Justice Kennedy said. "The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other."
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