Antonin Scalia said that each time the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized in the past 50 years, more and more senators supported it, even though the problem of racial discrimination at the polls has decreased over that time.
"Now, I don't think that's attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this," he said. "I think it is attributable, 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."
What planet does this cat live on? What country is he living in??
The Supreme Court was hearing arguments from Shelby County, Ala., that the nine states and assorted counties covered under the 1965 law no longer need special federal oversight to prevent them from discriminating against black voters.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a major figure in the civil rights movement who was a former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, said on MSNBC the other night that he was appalled by the comment.
“It is an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for, what people died for, what people bled for, and those of us who marched across that bridge 48 years ago, we didn’t march for some racial entitlement,” he said. “We wanted to open up the political process and let all of the people come in, and it didn’t matter whether they were black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American.”
NAACP President Ben Jealous (and my frat brother) told ABC News, "The protection of the right to vote is an American entitlement. It is a democratic entitlement. And those who would seek to use incendiary rhetoric from the bench of the Supreme Court should think twice about their place in history." I agree.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson also criticized his remark.
Later on Wednesday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to indirectly reprimand Scalia for the comment, asking Shelby County's attorney Bert Rein whether he believes the right to vote protected under the act is a racial entitlement. Rein answered, "No." He knew what was up!
Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University and a fellow at the liberal think tank Demos, told Yahoo News that Scalia's comment represented a "political assumption that has no place in a court of law. His assumption raises questions about his ability to approach this case in an impartial manner, and it also suggests that the question of the persistence of voting discrimination is best left to Congress," Overton wrote in an email.
Justices often make controversial comments or ask provocative questions during oral arguments, and it's very difficult to predict a case's outcome simply by listening to the justices question the attorneys. But most court-watchers emerged from the oral arguments believing the portion of the Voting Rights Act that singles out states and counties with a history of racial discrimination at the polls—most of them in the South—will be struck down. Discriminating against minority voters would still be illegal under the act, but people who hope to challenge discriminatory actions would have to do so through the regular court process, which takes longer than the special pathway set up under the law.
"For our nation's Department of Justice, the fair and vigorous enforcement of this and other vital protections -- and their defense against all Constitutional challenges -- constitutes a top priority," read Attorney General Eric Holder's prepared remarks for a speech he was set to give at the Edmund Pettus Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
"Let me be clear: although our nation has indeed changed, although the South is far different now, and although progress has indeed been made, we are not yet at the point where the most vital part of the Voting Rights Act can be deemed unnecessary. The struggle for voting rights for all Americans must continue -- and it will."
The crossing jubilee was an appropriate setting for Holder to make a vocal defense of the Voting Rights Act, as he has done before. Politicians and civil rights leaders have descended on Selma, Ala., for the annual commemoration of "Bloody Sunday," the March 7, 1965, attack by armed officers on civil rights protesters that helped spur the groundbreaking legislation.
Vice President Joseph Biden made the pilgrimage as well.
"We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination and violence that still existed in large parts of the nation," the vice president said Sunday, recalling news coverage of the beatings.
Despite the reminiscence and public support, the administration faces a difficult challenge in protecting the full Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge from Shelby County, Ala., to Section 5 of the act, which requires that certain states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination obtain clearance from the federal government for changes to their voting laws.
Most legal observers have predicted that the court will end up ruling against that provision of the law. During oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts was sharp in his questioning of its efficacy today, though the numbers he used to make his case have been called into question.
That photo above is why the act was passed in the first place.... But that was by a different supreme court in a different age...While many would argue that America has changed...We've elected an African American President twice?? Did anybody not notice the calls for secession and the racist tweets and the bellyaching that is still going on some four months after the election??? Still think that it is not needed?? Is America that much different from 1965 today??....Yes...Of course it is...but only because of laws like this one that doesn't allow racists to get away with the malarky that they used to get away with.
Racism is not dead in America....It's alive and well....and the people who are trying to limit the vote of certain people by voter suppression are lying in wait for any bit of hope, any loosening of the ropes that hold them at bay...
Feels like reconstruction all over again!!!