Oh hey there. You probably got up early to watch the Supreme Court Spectacular Spectacular again, didn’t you? Yesterday’s episode sucked if you are black or brown or a worker drone. SPOILER ALERT: Today’s episode is way fucking worse. Today’s episode is like the series finale of Lost except there’s no mystery about what happened because everyone knows that everyone is dead and everything is terrible. Let’s get to recapping what you already know because you are reading Things on the Internet: The Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act with a complicated and cute little number that basically ensures you’ll be seeing some delightfully retrograde 1950s-style voting forever, y’all.
We assume that you are not coming to yr Wonkette for thoughtful analysis on this nightmare because if you are, you really need to seek out better legitimate legal news sources. We’re just here to yell our heads off and go ALLCAPS on this motherfucker until the Oxy kicks in. In case you’re living in a Wonkette-only cave, here’s someone else explaining why this means everything goes to hell:
The Supreme Court struck down a central portion of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, effectively ending the practice in which some states with a history of racial discrimination must receive clearance from the federal government before changing voting laws.
The vote was 5 to 4, with the five conservative-leaning justices in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.
The majority held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress, was unconstitutional. The section includes a formula that determines which states must receive pre-approval.
Oh! Well, that doesn’t sound too ba…..OH WAIT IT SOUNDS TERRIBLE AND HERE’S WHY: See, if you were historically a terrible racist state or part of a state, the federal government could make you do some math to show that you were not trying to be racist and horrible, and if you didn’t show your work or your answer was wrong, the gubmint got to invalidate your racist voting math. Anyone over the age of 10 will not be surprised to learn that this provision arose out of necessity during the 1960s when America was even better at dicking over people of color.
When Johnson proposed the voting act, blacks in the South were often denied the right to vote after failing to answer questions such as whether they could recite verbatim the works of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or name the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Anyone over the age of 10 will also not be surprised to learn that the VRA is still super necessary because of all the things:
The Obama administration last year used the pre-clearance requirement to stop Republican-backed voter-identification laws in Texas and South Carolina. Several other states have passed voter identification laws that Hispanics say are intended to keep them from casting ballots. Last week the Supreme Court threw out an Arizona law that required evidence of citizenship when people register to vote.
Do you really want to wonk out with your cock out and get your super nerd on? Then go see the veritable orgy of maps the New York Times ran prior to the decision to see what jurisdictions the VRA has historically covered, what jurisdictions have been released from the Act because they stopped being quite so terrible, and what other insidious ways there can be voter discrimination. (Side-eyeing YOU, Minnesota, with your oversized black-white registration gap. Fix. That. Shit.).
So did the Supremes leave Congress a way to fix this mess by updating the preclearance formula math? Sure, but that only works if you believe you have a functional Congress and HAHAHA YOU DO NOT.
Chief Justice John Roberts said for the conservative majority that Congress “may draft another formula based on current conditions.”
That task eluded Congress in 2006 when lawmakers overwhelmingly renewed the advance approval requirement with no changes in which states and local jurisdictions were covered, and Congress did nothing in response to a high court ruling in a similar challenge in 2009 in which the justices raised many of the same concerns.
We don’t know about you but we’ve never loved our fucking do-nothing Congress less. There’s just no way a body this deeply divided is going to come up with some way to fix this, so for all intents and purposes the meaningful parts of the Voting Rights Act just went out the window. And the very bestest part is that you won’t have to wait long AT ALL for the bad things to happen!
The decision means that a host of state and local laws that have not received Justice Department approval or have not yet been submitted will be able to take effect. Prominent among those are voter identification laws in Alabama and Mississippi.
Going forward, the outcome alters the calculus of passing election-related legislation in the affected states and local jurisdictions. The threat of an objection from Washington has hung over election-related proposals for nearly a half century. At least until Congress acts, that deterrent now is gone.
You know what? We’re out of words, for serious. We’re out for the rest of the day, week, lifetime, whatever. We’re going to go console ourselves by reading the speech LBJ gave when he asked Congress to pass the VRA in the first place:
This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, north and south: “All men are created equal” — “Government by consent of the governed” — “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom, he shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.
Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument. Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.
Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.
Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books — and I have helped to put three of them there — can ensure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it.
In such a case our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color. We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution.
We must now act in obedience to that oath…
But, hey, that was a long time ago, and everything’s better now, and we heard that somewhere an old lady voted twice.
(For completists, the Court also issued a couple other opinions today. Our brainpans can’t absorb those because they are already chock full of sadness and rage, but if you want to check them out, you should head on over to the SCOTUS page and go on with your bad self.)Related