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Evenwel v Abbott: SCOTUS's Most Momentous Decision-in-Progress (2015-16)

By       Message Marta Steele     Permalink
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The scales of injustice
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Democracy is fraught with loopholes. Let me try to count the ways. One place to look is at all of the roadblocks erected by conservatives to prevent majorities from having their way in our democracy--a case in point is voting. Yes, there can be tyranny in majorities but in this case the minority has become hugely tyrannical. Some think that they dream of a neo-feudal system in which 99 percent of the population, we the people, become serfs.
I will list some of the most recent roadblocks to prevent the numerical majority of this country, the underclasses, including the middle class, from carrying the vote as they should. First there is voter ID, which has existed since the late twentieth century but became a monster beginning at the end of the first decade of the New Millennium. Along with the tsunami of financial investment in electoral outcomes released by the Citizens United decision in 2010 and its offspring, it is the monstrosity that has diverted many an election away from the vast majority to various allied minorities.
Then there is "redistricting," a euphemism for gerrymandering, which involves shaping legislative districts at both the federal and state levels in ways that mostly benefit conservatives. A popular example is the 2014 election that led to a Republican majority in the House of Representatives even though one million more votes were cast for Democrats.
Other roadblocks to fair voting include reducing the amounts of same-day registration allowed, early voting, third-party registration, barring ex-felons from voting, and much more--a quantity that continually increases, creeping toward Karl Rove's goal of wall-to-wall Republican domination by 2020. Despite setbacks--there are some--his dreams seem on their way. The Silver Boy is sailing on.
The latest incarnation of this un-American dream is a distortion of the one-person-one-vote principle judged Constitutional in the sixties by the Warren Court and still alive today though spinning around in the garbage grinder of gerrymandering.
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One-person-one-vote is usually interpreted to mean that legislative districts at the state and federal levels are drawn on the basis of total population rather than those who actually vote or are qualified to do so. The latter interpretation will be debated by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) this year (beginning in a few days actually) and decided late in June 2016. Evenwel v Abbott is considered by SCOTUS to be its most momentous and far-reaching case this year because of the huge impact it will have on the already-disempowered Latino communities in Texas and, by extension, Latinos and other minorities who together comprise large numerical majorities in many other states.
The Lone Star State enjoys one of the most stringent voter ID laws in the country, right up there with North Carolina and Alabama, among other states, most of them southern, freed up by SCOTUS in 2013 to pass any electoral legislation they want to now that section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013 by the decision Shelby County v FEC. Thank you, Alabama, once again, seat of much opposition to minority civil rights beginning, uh, a long time ago, having entered the union early in the nineteenth century and seceded from the Union less than a month after South Carolina initiated the process late in 1860.
And thank you, Sue Evenwel and cronies, for your attempt to reduce even further the power of the people by counting only those who can or do vote as units of the population that determine electoral districts rather than their families, those in the process of acquiring citizenship, felons, and others--the "usual suspects."
The most discriminated-against category of them all is new to the burgeoning package of victims of radical conservatism: children, especially Latino children, who may provide the largest incentive for voters' decisions, especially in districts where people have lots of children, districts who therefore should be deciding the direction of our future. Less densely populated districts will be awarded even more power than gerrymandering has already given them and guess what area of the spectrum this minority comprises? Conservatism in varying degrees, from moderate to radical.
The ultimate power of this country resides at lower, local levels--the people there and, in our scenario, those in charge of elections, some of them innocent instruments of manipulation by others. I do not mean to impugn an entire category of public servants, both volunteer and on payrolls.
Because of many, many roadblocks, poor people tend to vote in far lower numbers than do rich people, who tend to be more educated and have more time to vote. I have enumerated only some roadblocks above. There are many others, including the conviction, nurtured by adversarial elements, that their vote doesn't count. Psychology has played a large role in human warfare for eons.
There is so much discrimination in this country, in the realm of elections among many other areas, but those who fight for Election Integrity say that since democracy rests on the people's right to vote (in fair elections is the implication), it is the cornerstone of democracy, as have many dating back to the birth of this country. The debates are long and furious and many books have been written, but not enough, and the people in whose hands this country's future should rest are a long way from being reached effectively.
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I am amazed at the genius of a small minority of the population that is so successfully blocking the will of the vast majority to have their say in how this country is run. Their methods are brilliant, ingenious, and dynamically morphing, to the extent that I want to refer to this brilliance in the title of my book-in-progress whose working title is "Ballots or Bills: The Future of Democracy."
More than a decade ago, I wrote a blog on the burgeoning list of reasons why the US was fighting in Iraq according to the powers that be, nominally led by President George W. Bush. I counted twenty-three (see www.wordsunltd.com/blog_71.htm if you want to). But those layers of disingenuous rationalization pale by comparison with the burgeoning brick wall being constructed unit by unit to recreate serfdom in the twenty-first century.
This latest attempted brick, a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in Evenwel v Abbott, constructing state-level electoral districts on the basis of those qualified to vote, will be huge. To think that it is nominally in opposition to Texas is frightening. To think that the case will be decided by a group dominated by conservative activists, SCOTUS, is also frightening. Because SCOTUS is so politicized, some of its decisions lean to the left as a nod in the direction of the vast majority of this country's population. Will Evenwel be one of them?
Most frighteningly of all, it may not. In a masochistic way, I look forward to the brilliant logic of the ultimate decision next June, whichever side wins. The disingenuity leading this country to neo-feudalism is amazing. The left, just as smart, so squelched, is being squashed.
As experts have said, a decision in favor of Ms. Evenwel and her co-plaintiffs would lead to national redistribution, a huge imposition on the people that would be monstrously costly in every way. The litigation would shake this country like a monstrous earthquake. The costs would drain us all, especially the behemoth American underclass.
But since the SCOTUS decision won't be delivered until the middle of next year, it can't go into effect for Election 2016 and beyond that the 2020 US census.
That's a consolation of sorts.
Think of all that can happen between now and 2020. After all, Medicare and Medicaid came to us via a Texan.
Let's get to work.

(Article changed on December 4, 2015 at 13:45)

 

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for Opednews.com since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)
 

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