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Friday, June 28, 2013

Voting Rights decision another fine mess for Congress

Before we join our fellow progressives in the justifiable assault on the Supreme Court for its colossally f-ed up decision, Tuesday, in Shelby County v Holder, which struck down key elements of the pre-clearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, let's talk about for whom this mess tolls. It tolls for Congress. Laurel & Hardy
"This is another fine mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy, on countless occasions, to his bumbling best buddy, Stan Laurel
In those old, black and white shorts from the 1930s, the rotund blowhard, Hardy, was always blaming his rail thin, whimpering sidekick, Laurel, for the trouble the pair always got into. The problem for Hardy is that everyone always knew that it was really he who led them into trouble, and not the friend on whom he laid the problem. So it is with the Supreme Court and Congress. In this little tragic tale of government mismanagement, SCOTUS and Congress are Laurel and Hardy, respectively. While the easy thing to do would lay all the blame on the Supremes for the VRA decision, let's keep in mind that when a majority Republican Congress reauthorized the act, and a Republican president signed it into law, in 2006, they decided they did not want to do the hard work to reformulate how jurisdictions are included in Section 5 of the Act.
"There is no valid reason to insulate the coverage formula from review merely because it was previously enacted 40 years ago," wrote the Justices, in the majority opinion. "If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula."
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