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Old 06-25-2013, 08:22 AM  
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SCOTUS Strikes Down Part of the Voting Rights Act

5-4 decision written by the Chief Justice, the 4 liberals dissent.

Section 4 of the VRA is gone, but the court ruled very narrowly, leaving section 5 in place, but until congress replaces section 4, section 5 is not going to be enforced.

In plain english, at this moment the preclearance requirement for southern states in congressional redistricting and changing election laws is gone until congress revises their formula. Back in the 60's, the formula they used to decide which states were so racist that they needed oversight may have made sense, but the formula is now badly out of date, and congress needs to take a close look at where, if anywhere, the preclearance requirement is still needed.
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Old 06-25-2013, 02:55 PM   #31
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But here's the curious thing. In none -- not one -- of these big final-week cases did a single "liberal" justice on the high court (Democratic appointees, all four) stray from the predictable liberal correct position
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Old 06-25-2013, 02:56 PM   #32
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John Roberts’ opinion on the Voting Rights Act is really weak
by Eric Posner, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School

Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, the Voting Rights Act case, is a pretty lame piece of work. There is a longstanding constitutional norm of judges deferring to Congress. Courts strike down laws when they violate rights or exceed Congress’ power. But Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires nine states in the South (and other scattered places) to get approval from the Justice Department before changing their election laws, doesn’t violate anyone’s rights. It’s the type of legislation specifically authorized by the 15th Amendment of the Constitution, which says the right to vote “shall not be abridged” because of race or color. Roberts says that the singling out of Old South states, for what’s called “preclearance” by DoJ, makes little sense now that blacks are as likely to register to vote as whites in those states, or nearly so. But Congress passes hundreds of statutes that are based on weak evidence, and courts routinely uphold them. Roberts doesn’t even try to argue that the costs imposed on states by the preclearance part of the Voting Rights Act exceed the benefits for people who would otherwise be deprived of the vote, which is what would be minimally necessary to show that the law does not advance the public good.

Instead, Roberts focuses on the offense to the sovereignty of states and a newly invented idea he calls the “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty.” State sovereignty means that the federal government should not intrude on political decision-making of states, including, Roberts says, their election laws; equal sovereignty means that when it does, it should intrude equally—on all of the states to the same degree.

But neither of these principles can explain where Roberts ends up. The idea of state sovereignty is riddled with exceptions and is largely a joke these days. The federal government calls the shots, and the states obey, in the area of elections as much as in any other. Roberts accepts the constitutionality of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids states to discriminate against minority voters and in this way also intrudes on state control over their elections. (Section 2 wasn’t at issue in the case the court decided Tuesday, so it’s alive and well. But it relies on lawsuits, not preapproval by the Justice Department, to ensure the rights of minority voters.) If Section 2 does not violate the Constitution, then what is special about Section 5—which also forbids discrimination? From the standpoint of state autonomy, Roberts’ argument does not wash.


That leaves the “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty,” the idea that Congress may not single out certain states for special burdens. Yet Roberts is able to cite only the weakest support for this principle—a handful of very old cases that address entirely different matters. None of the usual impressive array of founding authorities show up in his analysis, even though the founding generation took state sovereignty much more seriously than we do today.

Still, it is worth looking at this principle. What exactly is wrong with the singling out of states by the federal government? Is the idea that when Alabama is on the playground with the other states, they’re going to make fun of it because it had to ask its mama for permission before going out to play? In fact, the federal government doesn’t treat states equally and couldn’t possibly. Nearly all laws affect different states differently. Disaster-relief laws benefit disaster-prone states at the expense of disaster-free states. Pollution-control laws burden industrial states. Progressive taxes burden states where the rich are concentrated. Thanks to Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency can single out states with serious pollution problems, the Justice Department can keep an eye on states with serious corruption problems, and immigration authorities can single out border states for surveillance. Indeed, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act will continue to burden states with substantial minority populations relative to other states, just because you can’t discriminate against a minority population that doesn’t exist. Many more Section 2 claims will be brought in Alabama than in Montana, and so even under Section 2, Alabama has vastly less control over its election law than Montana has over its election law. Yes, Section 5 places an incremental burden on Alabama—but on top of an already unequal burden that Roberts cheerfully tolerates. So whatever explains the court’s decision today, the putative principle of equal sovereignty can’t be it.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_a...ts_struck.html
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:10 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by alnorth View Post
It still has to pass basic equal protection principles, the whole "rational basis, heightened/strict scrutiny" thing.

The section 4 formula is no longer rational. You can not discriminate between states "just because", there were 2 preclearance states (Alaska and some other state) that had never, ever had a successful section 2 lawsuit filed against them. There are many states and jurisdictions not under the formula that probably should be included way, way before many of the preclearance states. (assuming we are going to include any of them at all, I'm not convinced that section 5 is needed anywhere in the entire country in 2013)

Congress passed an unconstitutional law because of politics. Its easy to reauthorize the law, but its hard to redesign section 4. When congress ignores the constitution, and ignores direct warnings from the court, then the court eventually has to assert the constitution.
It sounds like you are making an equal protection argument, that the federal government is discriminating against certain states, and that this discrimination needs to pass a rational basis type test. Am I reading that right? Because it sounds kind of crazy to me.
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:36 PM   #34
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Gerrymandering is gerrymandering where ever it happens. Texas's maps split Austin and San Antonio with explicit intentions of packing and diluting Hispanic votes. If the racists in the gop in Texas (note not all are racist) and acceped the compromise maps the the gop and dems had agreed to prior to their egregrious maps then the gop wouod have had much more favorable maps than they are going to get now. There is a large element of racism in the Texas redistricting fight. Pretending like their isn't is disengenuous.
Gerrymandering is not racist, it is political. You are acting like these guys are primitive cavemen who go "whites good, blacks bad, must dilute blacks, ook"

They analyze every neighborhood in every possible characteristic and voting history. They don't give a damn about race, they only care about votes. If you are a crunchy granola liberal neighborhood, you'll be treated, by democratic and republican legislatures alike, the same as if you were a black neighborhood.

I personally believe Gerrymandering should be eliminated and all states should be forced to design districts which are geometrically compact, ideally designed by computers which only know population data and nothing else.

Until such a thing happens, you can't label gerrymandering you don't like as "illegal racism" and ignore/bless gerrymandering that works for you.
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:40 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by FD View Post
It sounds like you are making an equal protection argument, that the federal government is discriminating against certain states, and that this discrimination needs to pass a rational basis type test. Am I reading that right? Because it sounds kind of crazy to me.
That is basically the reason why section 4 was struck down today.

There is no rational basis for using this formula, when the formula is based on 1960's registration and which states had laws over 40 years ago which are banned nationwide today.

The minority has a real lame reverse-engineering argument where they know that the section 4 formula is total garbage, but they are trying to somehow figure out a way to show that its still "good enough".
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Old 06-25-2013, 04:00 PM   #36
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Fixed
Right, we all know you take the Liberal side on every issue. That much is obvious. But you're not on my TV. You aren't emerging from your computer desk on film, wearing a Black Robe. Or shown reading papers in great contemplation, or featured on 60 Minutes interviews. Etc.


You and the Wise Latina are the same: knee jerk leftists. Why can't the media just admit it?
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Old 06-25-2013, 04:01 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by alnorth View Post
Gerrymandering is not racist, it is political. You are acting like these guys are primitive cavemen who go "whites good, blacks bad, must dilute blacks, ook"

They analyze every neighborhood in every possible characteristic and voting history. They don't give a damn about race, they only care about votes. If you are a crunchy granola liberal neighborhood, you'll be treated, by democratic and republican legislatures alike, the same as if you were a black neighborhood.

I personally believe Gerrymandering should be eliminated and all states should be forced to design districts which are geometrically compact, ideally designed by computers which only know population data and nothing else.

Until such a thing happens, you can't label gerrymandering you don't like as "illegal racism" and ignore/bless gerrymandering that works for you.
No, that's not what I'm saying. I agree that gerry mandering should be eliminated in a method similar to how you are proposing. However, you should read up on what happened in Texas because there was a definite racial component. Dems and gop had a compromise map that was rejected by hardliners and then we got the ****ed up map that the feds struck down.
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Old 06-25-2013, 04:19 PM   #38
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No, that's not what I'm saying. I agree that gerry mandering should be eliminated in a method similar to how you are proposing. However, you should read up on what happened in Texas because there was a definite racial component. Dems and gop had a compromise map that was rejected by hardliners and then we got the ****ed up map that the feds struck down.
Again, it was not racism, it was political. Texas went for broke and rather than redistricting for a slight GOP benefit, they tried to take nearly all of the new seats for their party.

The fact that a lot of Democrat voters in Texas are racial minorities who live close together is a coincidence. If Texas were 100% white with the same voting patterns, they would not have gone "oh well thats different then, white democrats aren't so bad. Okie doke then, we'll play nice". No, they had the state government and they were going to do whatever they could to ruthlessly advance their party.
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Old 06-25-2013, 05:44 PM   #39
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Again, it was not racism, it was political. Texas went for broke and rather than redistricting for a slight GOP benefit, they tried to take nearly all of the new seats for their party.

The fact that a lot of Democrat voters in Texas are racial minorities who live close together is a coincidence. If Texas were 100% white with the same voting patterns, they would not have gone "oh well thats different then, white democrats aren't so bad. Okie doke then, we'll play nice". No, they had the state government and they were going to do whatever they could to ruthlessly advance their party.
You are conveniently leaving out that most of the gop and dems had worked out a compromise map that was far more favorable to the gop than what we will end up with and hard liners derailed it.
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:03 PM   #40
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You are conveniently leaving out that most of the gop and dems had worked out a compromise map that was far more favorable to the gop than what we will end up with and hard liners derailed it.
Who cares about backroom handshake deals?

The only thing that matters is who has the votes. You cant wave your hands and say "oh thats not political, thats racist, just because the map that won was created by someone who you perceive to be "extremists" or "hardliners".

If every person in the entire state of Texas were the same race and geographically voted the same way, they would not have done it differently.
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Old 06-25-2013, 07:01 PM   #41
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I'm not a hater of the Constitution, but neither am I so vapid to believe that it is a sacrosanct, inerrant document beyond reproach.
Texas wastes no time. Will put a new ID law in place and will redraw their congressional districts.
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:46 PM   #42
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Texas wastes no time. Will put a new ID law in place and will redraw their congressional districts.
"Will?" I thought they already had.
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:50 PM   #43
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I'm not a hater of the Constitution, but neither am I so vapid to believe that it is a sacrosanct, inerrant document beyond reproach.
The bold part shows what I meant — a disdain for the rule of law. That's hating it.

"Inerrant beyond reproach?" You are making the assumption based on my defending what it actually says, means I like everything in it. I just know that the Amendment process is the way to change it on such things.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:00 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by 'Hamas' Jenkins View Post
I'm not a hater of the Constitution, but neither am I so vapid to believe that it is a sacrosanct, inerrant document beyond reproach.
BEP is the strictest of strict constructionists, except the parts she doesn't like so much, where she is a bit more flexible. Actually, I'm pretty sure BEP believes that certain parts of the Constitution are unconstitutional.
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Old 06-26-2013, 08:04 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by alnorth View Post
That is basically the reason why section 4 was struck down today.

There is no rational basis for using this formula, when the formula is based on 1960's registration and which states had laws over 40 years ago which are banned nationwide today.

The minority has a real lame reverse-engineering argument where they know that the section 4 formula is total garbage, but they are trying to somehow figure out a way to show that its still "good enough".
This is what seems crazy. The law is explicitly authorized by the Constitution, its rationality shouldn't even be an issue. There certainly isn't a 14th amendment issue. Its like if the court struck down the latest Postal Service reform bill on the grounds that some of the rules seemed arbitrary or "irrational" to them. They are just substituting their judgement for Congress's on a factual issue.

Its not like they struck down Section 5, that would be another issue entirely. It really seems like a strange and badly reasoned decision.
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