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General News    H2'ed 4/1/09

Supreme Court's plan to gut the Voting Rights Act

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Message Mark Crispin Miller

This is but of the part of the Republicans' not-so-stealthy drive in preparation for the next election. There are also the voter ID laws winning passage in state after state.Through such measures they will do much better than expected (and, in fact,much better than they really did).

The hideous irony of all this is that the champions of both maneuvers--stripping Section 5 out of the Voting Rights Act, and passing voter ID laws--are using the election of Barack Obama to justify their actions. After all, since America has elected a black president, why do we need a Voting Rights Act, anyway? And the advocates of voter ID legislations are contending, incredibly, that such laws actually increased the turnout on Election Day. (Hans von Spakovsky actually made this case, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 30.)

The Democrats had better get their act together; and that means way more than the Holt Bill, even if the latter could be much improved (about which more in a moment).


Wall Street Journal

MARCH 28, 2009

A Showdown on Voting Rights
In Texas Case, a Divide Over How Far Minorities Have Come

Blake Gordon for The Wall Street Journal


AUSTIN, Texas -- Don Zimmerman got elected to the local utility board in 2002. One of his goals was to move the polling station from a neighbor's inconveniently located garage to an elementary school three blocks away.

His effort barely registered among the 3,500 residents of Mr. Zimmerman's suburb, Canyon Creek. But it turned out to have much broader ramifications. It prompted a case now before the Supreme Court that could bring the biggest change in election law since 1965, when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act.

The case, which the high court will hear on April 29, focuses on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The clause requires state and local governments deemed to have historically suppressed minority votes to obtain Justice Department approval before altering election practices -- even something as minor as moving a polling station.

Conservative legal activists, looking to strike down Section 5, recruited Mr. Zimmerman's agency, the Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1, as plaintiff in a suit to challenge it.

They argue the era of Southern sheriffs attacking civil-rights marchers with bullwhips and billy clubs is long gone, and the Constitution no longer permits the extraordinary measures Congress adopted two generations ago to ensure minorities could take part in the democratic process.

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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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