A Step Backward

As the federal Defense of Marriage Act was being struck down a few weeks ago—the Supreme Court allowing same-sex couples the rights to the same federal benefits that were only available to opposite-sex couples beforehand—another right was being taken away. By a 5 to 4 vote along ideological lines, a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was stripped away.

Previously, federal approval had to be obtained by particular states with a history of minority voter suppression if they wanted to change voting laws that would affect blacks and other minorities. The justices ruled that Congress’s original reasons for implementing the law were obsolete.

Obsolete?! For those of you out there who don’t know the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was probably the single most important achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. It assured that anyone, regardless of race, would have the right to vote. It propelled blacks and other minorities from second-class citizens to equal footing in the voting booth.

Ever since Barrack Obama was elected president in 20008, certain states, most of them Southern, have made every attempt to gut this law as if minorities were solely responsible for the election of our first black president. And, of course, the states leading the charge are Alabama and Texas, who have a sordid history when it comes to race relations.

Obama’s election was supposed to change everything when it came to race. It has not. And in parts of the South, it has made deep divisions even deeper. Instead of the killing blacks as it was 1960, it’s taking away their voting rights in the hope that in 2016 the country will revert back to electing old, gray-haired white men.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked at the court’s ruling after what its conservative wing has attempted to do over the last few years—like handing the presidency over to King George and his court. When Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed by King Georgie, it got worse. The sad part is the president has no power to veto their decisions, like it makes any sense that the person who appointed them has no say in their decisions.

This pretty much means they can do just about anything they want, because once you become a Supreme Court justice, it’s for life. No term limits for them. Maybe there should be. Many of these justices have been on the bench far too long; maybe it’s them who are obsolete, not the Voting Rights Act.

And why can’t the people have a say as to whom we hand these laws over to? Every President who appoints a justice always picks along party lines; there is no middle ground. Now we must hope that a divided congress can come up with a new voting rights law.

Good luck with that.

–James Shearer





Leave a Reply