The U.S. views itself as a nation progressing ever toward the ideals of justice and liberty. In many ways it’s true. The egregious violations of civil rights that kept so many from voting are sins of another era. Long gone are poll taxes and forcing black people to recite the Declaration of Independence before being given a ballot. The bodies of those who dared register minorities to vote do not wind up in a burning car. Yet these horrors did happen, and in living memory. There is danger in congratulating ourselves too readily on the progress we have made since. It tempts us to overlook what is being done today to deny those same civil rights. In the case of certain members of the Supreme Court, the attitude has ossified into a brittle arrogance. Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” One can almost hear the sneer of one who believes that it is he who is the victim of discrimination.
Scalia’s remark was heard in oral arguments in the case Shelby County v. Holder. Many observers believe the conservative bloc on the high court will use a ruling in the case to gut a chief provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Shelby County, Alabama is challenging Section 5 of the act, which mandates so-called pre-clearance standards. Nine states, mostly in the South, and a handful of counties around the nation, must first receive the federal government’s permission before redrawing legislative maps, shifting polling places or enacting new rules on voter identification.
These jurisdictions must prove to the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges that planned changes will not have a discriminatory effect. Often, they can’t meet that burden.
Full Article: Voting Rights Act still necessary – KansasCity.com.