Certainly most of us are already aware of Justice Antonin Scalia’s political leanings; he’s way over on the right. In keeping down that avenue, Scalia said that the “repeated renewal of Section 5 to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Voting rights was fought for tooth and nail and now it’s renewal is on the line. Today, the Supreme Court is deciding its fate, even though Congress has renewed the law four times, most recently in 2006 for a period of 25 years.
Talking Points Memo reports:
In expressing his deep skepticism Wednesday for the constitutionality of a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia questioned the motivations of Congress for repeatedly reauthorizing it since it was initially passed in 1965.
“I don’t think there is anything to gain by any senator by voting against this act,” Scalia saidduring oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder. They’re going to lose votes if they vote against the Voting Rights Act. Even the name is wonderful, the Voting Rights Act — who’s going to vote against that?”
At issue was the constitutionality of Section 5 of the 1965 law, which requires state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination to pre-clear any changes to their voting laws with the Justice Department prior to enacting them.
Congress has renewed the law four times, most recently in 2006 for a period of 25 years. The margin of victory was 99-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who asked many questions in defense of the law, appeared taken aback by Scalia’s insinuation. In the final moments of oral argument, she asked Bert Rein, the lawyer for the challengers, if he agrees.
“Do you think think Section 5 was voted for because it was a racial entitlement?” she asked. When he ducked the question, she asked it again. He did not endorse Scalia’s sentiment.
Scalia suggested that lawmakers have repeatedly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act due to fear of political repercussions. He went on to say that racism is widely acknowledged to have become less severe in the covered jurisdictions since 1965. “Less severe” however, does not mean that it’s nonexistent, but that was not addressed by him.
TPM adds, “The core struggle in the case is between the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law, and the 15th Amendment, which tasks Congress with enforcing a ban on discriminatory voting laws.
Scalia signaled that he fears Section 5 will be repeatedly reauthorized into perpetuity, regardless of whether it’s justified, unless the courts step in.”
One has to wonder what harm the law is doing since he believes racism is no longer a problem although, I beg to differ. Racism is alive and well in America.
Image: The Raw Story.