If you want to stare into the ugly face of racial resentment, take a look at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. His stunningly injudicious remarks about a key portion of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) laid bare the bitterness that so many conservatives harbor toward black progress. During recent oral arguments about a challenge to the law, Scalia dismissed a critical part as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Given that the VRA was passed to ensure that black Americans had the right to vote – after white segregationists showed they were willing to beat, jail, and kill activists to block the black ballot – it was a chilling remark. I’m so glad Scalia said exactly what was on his mind. It saves me the trouble of having to persuade you that many critics of the VRA are mossbacks who still resent the political transformation unleashed by the power of the black vote.
Other skeptics on the high court managed more subtle criticisms, largely built around the notion that much has changed in the decades since a young John Lewis was beaten bloody on the Edmund Pettis Bridge 48 years ago this week. It’s a very seductive argument.
I was very nearly seduced by it myself. In 2005, civil-rights activists were gearing up to lobby Congress to renew the VRA, set to expire in 2006. As I considered their arguments, I looked around at a landscape that Martin Luther King Jr. would not have recognized.
With black men and women serving in major political posts, including as U.S. secretary of state, I was about to concede to the forces who argued that the VRA was no longer necessary. But the Georgia General Assembly dragged me back to reality. That year, its Republican members pushed through an odious piece of legislation requiring state-sanctioned photo IDs, such as a driver’s license, for voting. It became one of the first states to do so.
Full Article: Voting Rights Act is still necessary – Philly.com.