SCOTUS Prepares to Decide 2016 Election

One of the unsung heros of this election is Thomas Perez, head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. By aggressively challenging states trying to disenfranchise people of color, he prevented states from tipping the scale for Republicans.

Apparently, the Republicans on the Court read the news on Wednesday, because they’ve just accepted a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

Lyle Denniston writes:

Acting three days after the nation’s minority voters showed that they have increased and still growing power in U.S. elections, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on a challenge to Congress’s power to protect those groups’ rights at the polls.  The Court said it would hear claims that Congress went beyond its authority when it extended for another 25 years the nation’s most important civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and renewed four times since then.

Specially at issue is the constitutionality of the law’s Section 5, the most important provision, under which nine states and parts of seven others with a past history of racial bias in voting must get official clearance in Washington before they may put into effect any change in election laws or procedures, no matter how small.   The Court came close to striking down that section three years ago, but instead sent Congress clear signals that it should update the law so that it reflects more recent conditions, especially in the South.  Congress did nothing in reaction.

[snip]

In agreeing to rule on the Voting Rights Act, the Court limited its review to a question which it composed itself: ”Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage fomulal of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”   The Tenth Amendment protects the powers of states by limiting Congress’s powers.  Article IV guarantees each state a “republican form of government,” meaning it is protected in its right of self-government.   The question specified by the Court differed from that posed by Shelby County’s lawyers only by adding a reference to the Fourteenth Amendment.  The case to be decided in Shelby County v. Holder (12-96).

It appears the Court is going out of its way to take this case, with very obvious timing.

I guess John Roberts wants to make his decision in ObamaCare up to the GOP? I guess the Republicans on the Court didn’t think their intervention with Citizens United gave the corporatists enough of a boost this year?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. posaune says:

    I always liked Tom Perez — knew him back when he was on the Montgomery County Council — waayyyyyy out of place there, though. Far too much intelligence and integrity.

  2. joanneleon says:

    Wow, could they be more freaking obvious?

    Didn’t know about Perez. Feels good to know there are good guys at the dept of injustice.

  3. matt carmody says:

    “…update the law so that it reflects more recent conditions, especially in the South.”

    Have I missed something? Has the South suddenly become less reactionary? On the day after the election didn’t a state official in Texas say the state should secede? Weren’t Republican officials in Florida doing all they could to be poster children for stricter enforcement of the Voting Rights Act?

    As much as some northerners might be fooled by spending vacations on the Outer Banks or Hilton Head Island, the south is as racist and reactionary as it was before the Civil War. The fact that no one was executed for treason after that war or had their property confiscated and distributed among the freedmen was not lost on the members of the slavocracy. They realized they could do whatever they wanted to do without suffering consequences.

    Obstructionist tactics of Miss McConnell and other GOPers goes way back to the Reconstruction era and echo the massive resistance exhibited throughout the “former” Confederate states after the Brown decision in 1954.

    These infectious bits need to be excised from the body politic and not encouraged by the presence of reactionary radicals on the supreme court. Perhaps it’s time for some grassroots action aimed at impeaching either Scalia or Thomas for their out-of-the-closet palling around with traitors and accepting gifts from those who appear before them.

  4. marksb says:

    @matt carmody: Sure, if you are using logic and factual context. But this is about the GOP winning elections by legally suppressing minority voting, and thus obstructionist tactics are the whole point. Thinking that at least four of the “justices” are not going to go down this path is fantasy.

    Impeachment? Might as well tilt at windmills. I have no idea how that could be done, practically.

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