Thursday, February 28, 2013

The unbearable lightness of being (flat wrong)

YOUR HONORS, may it please the Court:

Um, why are four conservative white men (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy) -- plus Clarence Thomas -- on this Supreme Court in a rush to deep-six the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

Why the rush to judgment that racism, a tragic hallmark of America for centuries (recent progress notwithstanding), has suddenly evaporated -- now and for all time? Why the rush to embrace the fantasy that, “The radical treatment [i.e., the aforementioned Act] cured the disease,” as Alabama Shelby County lawyer Bert W. Rein has so passionately argued before Your Honors. Why the rush to cast aside the fact that Rein's beloved Shelby County -- the geographic center of Alabama (i.e., the "Heart of Dixie") where Republicans (all white) have held every elected office in the County since 2010, whose first County Courthouse was built by slaves in 1854, and whose current website (where not a single minority face appears) referred to its historic 1820 census as containing 2,044 whites and 448, um, "Negroes" -- has had 240 discriminatory voting measures recently blocked by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act? You know, the reason why Justice Sonia Sotomayor called Shelby County the “epitome” of the reason for keeping Section 5 firmly in place?

Why the bum rush by the Gang-of-Four-plus-Thomas to ignore the 98 to 0 Senate vote in 2006 to keep the Voting Rights Act in place? Why is Justice Antonin Scalia in such a hurry to declare that the will of Congress was proof not of the strength of the case for the law, but of what he called “the perpetuation of racial entitlement?” Say what?! Why, Your Honors, the blind resistance to walking a mile in the shoes of discrimination's victims -- and contemplating the backward pull of the South's blood-red clay -- before declaring with certitude that discrimination is dead? Why, oh why, are you white dudes (plus Thomas) so damn eager to spike the football in your imagined victory over prejudice? Your Honors, are you serious?

And yet chances are excellent that the storied Voting Rights Act -- a law that even Gang-of-Four-plus-Thomas member Samuel Alito said was "probably one of the most successful laws of the 20th century” -- will be struck down in defeat, 5 to 4. Humbly, I ask again, why?

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