What is the role of the Supreme Court of the United States? We are made to understand that it is the final court of resolution on issues of legality. Its process for resolving legal issues is to judge through the prism of the Constitution of the United States.
There has been a great deal of debate for as long as we can remember over the role of judges. There is the desire to remove emotion from their judgment. There is the desire to prevent them from legislating from the bench. There is the desire to have them make their decisions without consideration for politics. However, all judges, even those that sit on the Supreme Court, are human. As such, they are fallible, in some instances disastrously so.
The past week has been a momentous one. DOMA was struck down in a powerful victory for civil rights. A ruling on affirmative action was sent back to the lower courts as the SCOTUS did not deem it the purview of their court to decide. And, in a powerful blow to freedom and liberty, they struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, effectively neutering it. This has created a very dangerous situation for democracy, one I don’t think many of us are considering as we go about our daily activities.
The question of whether the President supports destroying the Voting Rights Act is clear. He does not. However, it has created an opportunity. The President is a very astute politician and with the political machinery at his disposal he can take action, but only with our support. I would ask those of you who agree with me, in understanding that the SCOTUS ruling is tantamount to an act against liberty, to take heart.
This is a gift and if used correctly it will spell doom for the extremists in the conservative movement, and out of it real Republicans who are reasonable, rational, and believe in POSITIVE conflict, just might be able to take their party back.
We expect the SCOTUS to support freedom and liberty with the intent to safeguard the rights of all Americans. History has proven time and again that humans do not always rise to such expectations, including the justices on the High Court. There is an argument to be made that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is outdated and should be updated and that Congress should move immediately to make a change. The Supreme Court has stated previously that Section 5 would be in jeopardy. Last week when it came before them, they acted.
However, we would have expected them to note that Congress is highly dysfunctional and that in the name of securing the franchise for minorities nationwide, it was in the best interest of freedom and liberty to leave Section 5 in place, for this is not just a Southern issue. However, seeing as how Justices are human beings with ideological leanings, no matter how hard they try to suppress them (and of course some don’t try at all), this outcome is not surprising. Painful, but not surprising at all.
There is now a danger we must recognize. With the gutting of the Voting Rights Act our major concern is not the reintroduction of some archaic voting rule at the booth, or even a voter ID law. We can mobilize our way around such challenges and to be sure we must, and we will. The real danger is the power states will now have to gerrymander people out of liberty and freedom and marginalize or even destroy their power in the booth.
State legislators will be able to redraw their districts in such a manner as to remove their opponents from power. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis beware! Extremists and ideological legislators will be able to carve out districts that limit the power of minorities by splitting them, dividing them. so as to remove their voting blocks and thus their voting power. With no federal oversight the only recourse is the courts, and litigation takes time.
So, how must we address this danger? What is the opportunity that has now presented itself? Is this truly an opportunity? We can galvanize ourselves around this violation of trust and marginalization of power. History has shown that we can rise to the occasion. We will seek to vote in even larger numbers, and the winds of destiny are already at our backs. Minorities will come to dominate this country, and when that happens we will all be a part of some minority. We serve ourselves better if we ensure that ALL Americans can share equally in the franchise.
We must mobilize to prevent voter ID laws from prohibiting our right to vote. This means we must ensure we understand the laws and that every citizen has a valid ID. We must leverage our non-profits, our churches, our businesses, and our professionals in order to stand strong against any state legislative action that gerrymanders people out of power. We must be ready to bring suit at a moment’s notice and seek injunctions where needed. This is the opportunity we must seize and we must do it in time for the 2014 mid-term elections.
Why must we do it for 2014?
Because when we vote next, we must be able to freely exercise the franchise and generate meaningful outcomes that recognize our needs for ourselves, our communities, and our nation. We must remove John Boehner from the Speakership. He has been one of the worst leaders of the House in all of American history. We must remove the Tea Party extremists, for they have said aloud that they would rather watch the country burn rather than compromise. We must vote in leaders who are woman and man enough to lead with respect and purpose.
Once we have done this, we will have a Congress that can move the business of America forward. They can start with repairing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Or better yet either remove its need for renewal, or pass a Constitutional Amendment. Consider this all critically and be prepared to act appropriately.