5 Things You Should Know About the Voting Rights Act SCOTUS Decision<br />
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5 Things You Should Know About the Voting Rights Act SCOTUS Decision

The landmark legislation was gutted by the Supreme Court. Now what?

Angela Bronner Helm

by Angela Bronner Helm, June 26, 2013

5 Things You Should Know About the Voting Rights Act SCOTUS Decision<br />
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is that Congress can essentially revive the Voting Rights Act in its current incarnation. The bad news is that it's up to this Congress to revive the Voting Rights act in its current incarnation. Though under President George W. Bush, the VRA went through (unanimously in the Senate), one wonders if this is even possible with this highly politicized, bi-partisan and clearly dysfunctional Congress, who can't seem to agree on the most basic things. The Supreme Court determined that Congress must use updated criteria to determine which states are subject to oversight (Section 4 again). And even if this Congress could agree on new criteria, one can only surmise will be acceptable to the Supreme Court. As it now stands, if Congress can't get it done, those who allege discrimination will have to rely on the courts, a costly and burdensome prospect which may take years (and many “lost” elections) to rectify.

5) The Republican Party Has To Tread Lightly Here

One can guarantee that since the decision, Republicans have been mulling over their options (and strategies), which is why none of them had anything but the most generic to say about it after the decision came down yesterday. They have the majority in the House and so they have the power.  As Republicans negotiate how to deal with immigration in the face of a rising Hispanic majority, while simultaneously disenfranchising them, Republicans now have to figure out how to either save or destroy the current the Voting Rights Act without looking like bigots. One wonders if they will use this as some sort of leverage to destroy Obamacare or the tax code, but whatever happens, history will surely look back on them and ask if they did the right thing, or turned back the hands of time. We won't be holding our breaths. 

One last note – this is why voting is essential (and why this whole thing is a vicious cycle). It should be noted that the five Supreme Court justices who voted to dismantle the VRA were appointed by Republican Presidents. The four dissenters were appointed by Democrats. The majority in Congress are Republicans, and it is essentially on them to revive or destroy this act (which honestly, doesn’t look like it’s in their interest since most disenfranchised people do not vote Republican). There is a Congressional election in 2014—time to take it back.


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