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Scalia comments are more dangerous than offensive

4th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

Here’s what he said: “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.”

The fact that people had to face tremendous opposition, including jail and death to get the right to vote should tell you that powerful people did not want this to happen and therefore the Voting Rights Act is needed to protect that right.

The fact that voter intimidation/suppression is not only an issue but a major and overt strategy of the Republican Party, 50 years after the VRA was enacted should tell you that we need the Voting Rights Act today more than ever.

The fact that across the nation voting districts are being constructed to give white minorities the majority of seats on city, county, state and federal bodies should make it clear that the VRA is still needed.

The right to vote is not a racial entitlement. It used to be when only white folks could do it, but it’s not a racial entitlement now. Laws that protect the rights of groups of people whose rights are under constant, verifiable attack are not entitlement laws.

But it’s worse than you might think. Most people rightly got offended and concerned at his description of the Voting Rights Act as a “racial entitlement.” Too many got mad there and ignored his next statement.

“It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are Black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. 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.”

Scalia says that the Supreme Court needs to interrupt the democratic process when members of Congress vote in ways that might please their constituents. But isn’t that the point of a democracy? According to Scalia those votes are only valid when they satisfy the racial or other inclinations of members of the Court…like himself. None of that “will of the people” stuff for Scalia.

Let’s note here that Congress is elected by the people, while Supreme Court members are not.

What’s more disheartening, if not scarier, is that conservatives are willing to back a statement even as ludicrous as this. They are closing ranks to minimize the importance, if not validate this rancid rant. It means that under no circumstances will they demonstrate the integrity to acknowledge when one of their own is wrong.

It’s a sad day in American politics. This Court has already relieved itself all over the Constitution and sold its soul to the high rollers in food, oil, health and other industries. How much lower will they sink? Who has the power to stop them?

This article originally published in the March 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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