In a victory for federalism and states’ rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can no longer force states to get its permission before changing their voting laws, or even moving a polling place. From the Washington Times:
The 5-4 ruling rewrites a key tool of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which for five decades has given the federal government unprecedented say in everything from how some states draw their congressional maps to where they place polling locations.
But beneath the legal ruling is a broader social significance, with the justices saying that past discrimination cannot be perpetually held against a state.
“The Fifteenth Amendment commands that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race or color, and it gives Congress the power to enforce that command. The amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.
As I noted here, the provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5 had outlived its usefulness.
Section 5 is like “double secret probation.” It’s like when you got grounded after that thing we won’t talk about, and could drive only to school, the library and grandma’s until your parents decided you had reformed. This unprecedented intrusion on federalism was justified because the covered states had done bad things to keep black people from voting, like literacy tests and poll taxes. That’s a huge oversimplification, but it’s generally accurate. You might think that the law was designed to make elections color-blind, but that wasn’t the goal. It was designed to make up for the racist policies that these states and counties had, which is a very laudable goal. Unfortunately, the law provides that officials in these states prove that they are no longer behaving in an illegal racist way, is to make sure that the winners of elections are members of a certain race. They are required to create legislative districts that ensure that result.
When this “pre-clearance” was first passed, it was supposed to be temporary, but Congress kept re-authorizing it, four times to be exact, the last time in 2006 for 25 years. As Justice Scalia so accurately noted, “Who could vote against something called ‘The Voting Rights Act?’”
Now, if a state wants to impose a photo ID requirement for voting, it can. Get ready for the Al Sharptons, the Jesse Jacksons and the other race-baiters who make a living pretending we live in the era when the democrats imposed Jim Crow laws on the states of the old confederacy to be going nuts over this decision.
I’m sure the One, who once sued the state of Illinois over the Motor Voter scam, isn’t too thrilled either.