Voting Rights Act appears doomed this year
The Kansas City Star
The highly successful Voting Rights Act of 1965 may become a footnote in history this year if Supreme Court questioning this week is an indication of the landmark legislation’s fate.
It has lasted more than four times the number of years that Reconstruction was in place after the Civil War and has had a positive effect ensuring that African Americans can vote.
But the court will decide a key provision of the law, requiring nine states to first get permission from the federal government before making changes in voting procedures, The New York Times reports. Republican-led state legislatures throughout the country in recent years have instituted voter identification requirements, which serve to limit access to voting for a disproportionate number of minorities, the poor and older people.
The nine states under the Voting Rights Act have not had that “freedom.” Justices in their questioning have said the South has changed — largely because of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act and other laws.
Continuing the Voting Rights Act amounts to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” Justice Antonin Scalia was quoted as saying. Congress in 2006 reauthorized the provision for 25 years, which is being challenged in the court.
The most telling statement came from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who asked skeptically whether “the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North.”
The correct answer is they aren’t, which indicates that rather than ending the key provision in the Voting Rights Act, it should be made to include all of the states in the Union.