Back in 2013, the Supreme Court proved how out of touch it can be when it issued a ruling striking down a key provision in the Voting Rights Act that required several states (mostly in the South) with a history of racism and discrimination to get federal approval before changing election laws. Obviously these laws were put in place due to the continued attempts by many of these states to disenfranchise African-American voters.
Well, in a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the Supreme Court dissolved that requirement, opening the door for Republican legislatures all across this country to swiftly begin changing their voting laws to, once again, disenfranchise African-American voters.
To be fair, many of these new voter ID laws seek to disenfranchise almost any demographic that tends to vote for Democrats, not just African-Americans – though they’re clearly a primary target.
At that time, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote:
“Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
Basically, because he felt “times have changed,” he felt the Voting Rights Act in its current form was antiquated and called upon Congress to fix it for a more modern society. It was a classic case of trying to fix something that wasn’t broken – or at least that’s the excuse the conservatives on the Supreme Court were using.
Naturally, two years later Congress hasn’t attempted to do a single thing to update the Voting Rights Act, mainly because Republicans don’t want to “fix it” since they like having the ability to rig elections. (Not that anyone with even a shred of common sense expected Republicans in Congress to actually “fix” the Voting Rights Act in the first place.)
Well, in a recent ruling, the very same Supreme Court basically contradicted itself when it ordered a review of North Carolina’s recent redistricting, more or less admitting that Republicans in that state unlawfully gerrymandered congressional districts to weaken the influence of African-American voters. This decision follows a similar ruling where the Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s decision that upheld Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional map, with the highest court in our land stopping just short of calling the state’s redistricting “unconstitutional.”
So, in the court’s 2013 ruling they claimed that “times have changed,” therefore requiring federal approval before some of these states could change their voting laws needed “updating” by Congress – yet here they’ve ruled two separate times that two states with a history of racism, segregation and discrimination unlawfully redrew congressional districts to weaken the African-American influence in those states.
In other words, times really haven’t changed. Many of these states are still doing just about everything they can to disenfranchise African-Americans when it comes to their representation in our government and their voting rights in general. Because studies show that the largest demographic that these new voter ID laws target is African-American voters.
But with these recent rulings by the Supreme Court basically admitting that Republicans in North Carolina and Alabama intentionally redrew congressional districts to disenfranchise African-Americans, they essentially contradicted their 2013 ruling on the Voting Rights Act because these states continue to show that even more than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, conservatives are still doing whatever they can to strip away the voting rights of African-Americans and any group that might vote against them.