Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 28, 2009

     Big day tomorrow.  It's President Obama's 100th day in office, of course, but it's also the day the Supreme Court hears arguments on a section of the 1966 Voting Rights Act which helped elect him.
     The section being challenged is the one that requires "preclearance," meaning that states and localities which have discriminated must get federal permission to change their voting procedures.  But the question in a way is, because we've elected a black president, do we still need such a law?
     Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, the New York Times says, thinks times have changed.  In extending the Act in 2006, he says, "Congress wrongly equated Alabama's modern government and its people with their Jim Crow ancestors."  And he notes that voter registration rates for blacks and whites are almost identical.
     On the other side, Thomas Shaw, a law professor and former NAACP official says, "Race still plays powerfully in electoral politics in this country.  If it weren't for the Voting Rights Act, there would be no president Obama."
     The Court has upheld the Act in the past.  And, surprise surprise, Justice Anthony Kennedy is widely expected to be the key voter.  The Times quotes him as having written recently,  "Racial discrimination and racially polarized voting are not ancient history.  Much remains to be done."
     Sounds good to me.  And if you don't want to discriminate, why object to a law that says you can't? 

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