Last week the Republicans on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act by taking all deterrence to discrimination out of the law. Republicans are still celebrating. Now that the dust has settled, the question is did that decision just give Republicans control of the House of Representatives and control of a majority of state legislatures for years if not decades?
The Roberts Court is arguably the most partisan Court in recent history. Chief Justice Roberts has doubled and tripled down on the partisan activism of the Court’s exemplified by the Bush v Gore decision that overturned the election and installed George Bush in the White House. He led his Court on a 5-4 basis to tilt laws in a way that clearly favors Republicans and specifically hurts minorities.
First he opened the floodgates of dark political money into campaigns—mostly Republican by the Citizens United ruling. His latest move is to gut the voting Rights Act which, in just the last few years alone, stopped Republican efforts at voter suppression 197 times.
Court opened door to Republican voter suppression and gerrymandering
The Court’s latest move, gutting the legislation that is the reason African Americans and other minorities are now able to participate fully in citizenship by voting, will insure Republican rule through gerrymandering and voter suppression.
Prior to the court’s ruling, the Voting Rights Act was the only thing preventing the worst attempts to prevent minorities from voting. With the Act gutted, Republicans are insured majorities in the legislature and Congress. Now that the teeth are removed from the law, nothing will stop Republicans from repression and obstruction.
Hours after the Court ruling several southern states immediately passed voter ID laws written deliberately to block the elderly, students, and the poor, most of whom are minorities, from voting. Texas enacted a gerrymandering map that was being blocked by the courts until Justice Roberts ruled.
These laws are written in a way that targets these groups who do not have and may not be able to obtain the form of ID required by the laws. There is little difference between these laws than the Jim Crow laws outlawed by the Voting Rights Act.
Voting rights experts said in the wake of the ruling Tuesday, potentially setting off a string of dominoes that could bolster the GOP’s majority in the House of Representatives for years, or even decades, to come according to Reid Wilson in the National Journal.
Impact of decision will last decades
The ruling is likely to have the longest-lasting impact on local races. In many Southern states, legislative districts that elect minority candidates don’t cross the 50 percent threshold, Michael McDonald, a George Mason University political scientist who studies voting rights and statistics told the National Journal. Those districts would have been subject to the protection of the Justice Department under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but not under Section 2.
State legislatures draw up the boundaries of legislative and Congressional districts. Most state legislatures in the nation are now controlled by Republicans. With nothing to stop them, they will further gerrymander Democrats—particularly minority Democrats out of office creating safe seats for Republicans that will insure Republican control. Prior to the Roberts ruling the Department of Justice could, and did, block the most egregious of those attempts.
There is likely to be a bevy of suits filed under what remains of the Voting Rights Act that may give the Court another bite at the apple. In addition, Democrats and minority organizations have indicated they will push Congress to fix the problem, but that is like asking a murderer to convict and sentence himself. The Senate may act, but this Republican House will not.
So, lovers of gridlock are happy. Lovers of obstruction are happy. People who want government intrusion into the lives of Americans are delighted at the prospect of years of Republican rule. The rest of the nation will become increasingly more distressed. Instead of protecting freedom and the rights of citizens, the Court is protecting the rights of the Republican Party, which includes only 29% of the country in its membership, to exercise its will over the majority.
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