“Come, listen, all you girls and boys, I’m just from Tuckahoe; I’m going to sing a little song, My name’s Jim Crow.” These are the two opening lines to a song entitled “Jump Jim Crow” made famous by a prominent minstrel actor named Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice in 1828. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made his derogatory, insensitive comments last Wednesday about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act from his bench, this was the first thing that popped up in my mind. What Justice Scalia and his fellow justices may need is a history lesson on why Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was put there in the first place and why it must remain there. Scalia is known for hurling verbal bombs from his seat in the chamber, but last Wednesday he crossed the line. Under Section 5, parts of the country with histories of discriminatory election practices have to ask for preclearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to their voting rules. Scalia declared, “I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
After he uttered those words, it was reported that collective gasps were heard around the room. It seems he shares a similar sentiment of his conservative Republican brethren. Mitt Romney after being trounced by President Obama during the 2012 election said Obama gave “gifts” to minority voters. Paul Ryan blamed the Republicans defeat on “the urban vote.” FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly said the people who voted for Obama “want stuff.” Other Republican talking heads have made comparable claims.
From this day forward, the word conservative means segregationist. The modern day Republican Party resembles the former Dixiecrat political party from the 1940s. The so-called conservative Supreme Court justices subscribe to the same radical, extreme beliefs of the Tea Party and right wing elements within the GOP. There isn’t another plausible conclusion to draw other than these folks have an enormous problem with minorities, but particularly, Blacks.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito stood alongside their colleague when they asked, “Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?” “Why shouldn’t it apply everywhere in the country?” I felt like I was back in the 19th century when I heard these views being espoused from people who supposedly represent the highest court in our country. These folks already voted in favor of Citizens United, which led to the most spending during a presidential campaign cycle ever. Now they’re dangerously close to removing the heartbeat from the Voting Rights Act.