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Thursday, February 28, 2013

SCOTUS arguments show 'there is still work to do' on voting rights

Photograph of President Lyndon Johnson Signs t...
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act,
with Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights
leaders in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, 08/06/1965
(Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

There are few words that cut through the perennial story of American pride in its exceptionality, like "racism." That one, ugly social system, propped up over our sordid history by institutional and ideological bulwarks of denial and ignorance, like Jim Crow, is part of the DNA of our country, away from which we are continually attempting to evolve. But just saying it's over doesn't end it. Seeing more minorities voting than ever doesn't end it. Electing an African American president doesn't end it.

Ask the people whose 2012 vote was protected by the Department of Justice denying attempt after attempt in states affected by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The need for DoJ clearance and oversight is essential to implementation. That's what makes the law "rational in theory and practice," the loss of which, the plaintiff representing Shelby County, Alabama, in the case, argued Wednesday, should be grounds for overturning the preclearance called for in the disputed section of the VRA.