Leftist talk show host embarrassingly misunderstands Supreme Court's discussion of the Voting Rights Act.
Some left-wingers can't handle it when a Supreme Court justice takes on one of their sacred cows, the blatantly racist Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Affective leftist Rachel Maddow flew into a rage of ignorant indignation, blasting Justice Antonin Scalia as a "troll" on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for criticizing a racist law that she supports precisely because it is racist in means and effect.
The revered federal law uses racist means not only to protect black Americans' right to vote, but also to guarantee election results. Section 2 of the Act allows congressional district boundaries to be redrawn to protect "majority-minority" districts and to prevent what a congressional research report calls "the submergence of minority voters into the majority, which can deny minority voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice." Though they may believe such policies are needed, honest people call such measures racist because they single out Americans for special treatment because of their race.
MSNBC-TV host Maddow, who has a long history of getting basic facts wrong, accused Scalia of racism, claiming he said that "voting is a racial entitlement, something that you are entitled to on the basis of your race."
"Wait a second. Do you know how that sounds? But I think he does know how that sounds, and that's the neat thing about being there in person because you can see oh, actually, he's a troll. He’s saying this for effect."
Except Scalia didn't say that. Justice Sonia Sotomayor did -- albeit in the form of a question, not an assertion.
During the same oral arguments Scalia attended last week, Sotomayor asked one of the litigators, "Do you think that the right to vote is a racial entitlement in Section 5?" (Section 5 of the Act allows the federal government to closely monitor and regulate elections in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination.)
A moment later Sotomayor restated a modified version of the question, asking, "Do you think Section 5 was voted for because it was a racial entitlement?"
Scalia, on the other hand, questioned the wisdom of the Act, which allows permanent black districts to be created in order to combat institutional racist discrimination in the South and elsewhere that existed when the law was enacted nearly 50 years ago.
In oral arguments last week in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Scalia said, correctly, that the Act created "racial entitlements." Under the Act, black Americans are guaranteed sometimes tortuously gerrymandered congressional districts represented by blacks.
"There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now," Scalia said, stating a fact political scientists consider uncontroversial.
Even though such policies may be unconstitutional because they are based on race and treat states differently, lawmakers keep voting for them because there is no political benefit for a lawmaker to vote against the Act, Scalia explained.
Senators "have no interest in voting against this," Scalia said. "The state government is not their government, and they are going to lose -- they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?"
This tendency for such policies to continue indefinitely is "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."
So, contrary to Maddow, Scalia never said the right to vote is a racial entitlement. The fact that certain congressional districts are drawn specifically to guarantee that black people are elected, however, is a racial entitlement, Scalia said, adding that the high court was justified in reviewing the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act.
Maddow put her other foot in her mouth by calling Scalia racist a second time. Carrying on the "troll" meme, she told Stewart, "So, when we're all shocked that [Scalia] said something so blatantly racially offensive – we’re talking about the cornerstone of the Civil Rights Act - he's thinking, 'Oh, yeah, I did. That’s right.'”
This is what political discourse has come to in America. If you point out a law has a racial impact you're the racist.
The Voting Rights Act was in fact created to fight racism with racist means.
Months after the nation witnessed Alabama state troopers attacking civil rights marchers in Selma in March 1965, Congress approved the law. Lawmakers reasoned it was needed because many state and local officials routinely discriminated against black Americans in the voting process, making it difficult for them to cast their ballots.
Echoing the language of the Fifteenth Amendment, the Act forbade states from enacting any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."
Additionally, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, which was ratified by the states in January 1964, had given Congress the power to abolish the imposition of poll taxes in federal elections.
In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, finding that Congress had "full remedial powers" to prevent racial discrimination in voting. Following the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, there was "unremitting and ingenious defiance in certain parts of the country," the court stated. The act constituted a "legitimate response" to the "insidious and pervasive evil" of various policies that had denied black Americans the right to vote since 1870. (Also in 1966, the court struck down state poll taxes in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections.)
Section 5 of the statute relegates states and localities to second-class status by presuming they are too corrupt and racist to administer elections fairly. Before the Voting Rights Act, the burden was on victims to challenge discriminatory abuses, but Section 5 shifted the burden of cost and delay to government officials, the possible perpetrators of discrimination.
The section requires state and local governments in certain parts of the nation to get federal approval - called pre-clearance - before implementing any changes they want to make in their voting procedures. Changes can include anything from moving a polling place to changing district lines in a county. The way the law is interpreted even lowly bond referendums in affected areas require pre-clearance.
The section requires a state, county, or local government entity to demonstrate to federal authorities that the voting change in question does not have a racially discriminatory purpose and is not "retrogressive," which means that it will not make minority voters worse off than they were prior to the change.
According to the Department of Justice, the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are covered by Section 5 of the Act.
In addition to those nine states, Section 5 covers various counties across the nation: four in California; five in Florida; three in New York (all within New York City); 40 in North Carolina; and two in South Dakota. It also covers two townships in Michigan and 10 townships in New Hampshire.
The areas regulated under Section 5 were overwhelmingly Democratic when the law was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 6, 1965.
An argument can be made that the law was needed at the time to curb the influence of openly racist Democratic officials on the electoral process.
When LBJ signed the law, racial segregationists, overwhelmingly Democrats, ran most of the states affected by Section 5. Mississippi Gov. Paul B. Johnson Jr. (D), was one of them. Johnson in his stump speeches thought he was witty when he sneered, "You know what the NAACP stands for? Ni--ers, alligators, apes, coons, and possums."
Other pro-segregation Democratic governors in power at the time were Alabama's George Wallace and Louisiana's John McKeithen.
Don't bother explaining any of this to Rachel Maddow.
She won't understand any of it, and you'll just get called a racist.
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