August 27, 2013

Voting Rights Act - Get Over It!

So Rep. Sensenbrenner has pledged that the GOP will fix the Voting Rights Act because parts of it were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Isn't that great? Nope, it's complete stupidity.  Here's why.

Via the Washington Post;
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Monday that he will attempt to replace, by the end of the year, the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Sensenbrenner’s comments came Monday at an event hosted by the Republican National Committee, commemorating the March on Washington.

Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.

“The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act, and then use that monkey wrench to be able to fix it so that it is alive, well, constitutional and impervious to another challenge that will be filed by the usual suspects,” Sensenbrenner said.
First of all, let's point out that the Supreme Court did the right thing - they interpreted the law as they saw it. There was nothing 'activist' about the court as the left claims. They certainly didn't define the court as activist when they upheld Obamacare and defined the individual mandate and associated penalty for non-compliance as a tax. They didn't call it a tax or see it as a tax when they passed the law. In any case the court is not an activist court in either case, it's just doing its job. You can try to argue that it is doing so poorly, but it isn't being activist.

Calling what the court did to the act a "monkey wrench" is insulting and disrespectful. Calling out the "usual suspects" is also disrespectful and indicates that Sensenbrenner took nothing away from the court's decision. The court's point was that the 'usual suspects' are not behaving like the usual suspects of the 1950s.

Furthermore, fixing the Voting Rights Act so that it is immune to court challenges is a nice Utopian goal, but it is just not realistic. Even the Constitution itself has had amendments made to it over time, no law is impervious to change or resistant to changing conditions in the world. To claim otherwise is both hubris and folly.

But the real reason that the fixes are not necessary is evident in the comments in the Washington Post following the article. The GOP have no credibility. Sensenbrenner cannot bring the rest of the GOP along for the ride on his vision, etc. The real reason Sensenbrenner wants to fix the Voting Rights Act is to do what? Win votes for the GOP, or for himself. But judging by the sentiment in the Post, that's not happening nor going to happen when the law gets 'fixed'. It's a faulty premise even by his own unstated goals, never mind the fact it doesn't need a fix, the Supreme Court provided it with one.
he reason the 'usual suspects' states are changing their voting requirements (adding voter ID laws) is to prevent voter fraud. Dead voters, multiple voters, out-of-state voters, illegal immigrant voters are all issues. Relative to 'voter suppression' are they bigger or smaller? The quantification of any of these elements are dubious and politically driven (at best). The Supreme Court has the opinion that the voter suppression problem has been largely overcome since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. In short time no doubt, it will be faced with the question of whether the voter ID issues are legitimate concerns now. Sensenbrenner is wasting time on an effort that does nothing to help the GOP and flies in the face of reality.  I suggest he just get over it. 

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