WASHINGTON, DC — There were audible gasps in the Supreme Court’s lawyers’ lounge, where audio of the oral argument is pumped in for members of the Supreme Court bar, when Justice Antonin Scalia offered his assessment of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. He called it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
The comment came as part of a larger riff on a comment Scalia made the last time the landmark voting law was before the justices. Noting the fact that the Voting Rights Act reauthorization passed 98-0 when it was before the Senate in 2006, Scalia claimed four years ago that this unopposed vote actually undermines the law: “The Israeli supreme court, the Sanhedrin, used to have a rule that if the death penalty was pronounced unanimously, it was invalid, because there must be something wrong there.”
The due process clause is a right for some, and an "entitlement" for others--and what exactly would be the difference? If given evidence that white
SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The Congress has the ability to enforce compliance with the right (not "racial entitlement") of citizens of the United States to vote. This is only troubling to someone, perhaps, who thinks the Constitution died shortly after the Founders came up with that brilliant 3/5ths thing. Otherwise, voting isn't a right but a privilege of (mostly) white people. It's really hard to read his derision regarding the VRA as something other than an opinion that the rights of the very people whom the VRA was meant to protect are not so much rights, but a kind of license we let them pretend to enjoy--which is by no means what the term "right" indicates. However, allowing states to make laws that tailor the voting pool to some preset demographic favorable to certain political goals abridges the right to vote--reinforcing a privilege.
Now, I might entertain the possbility that racialist motivations don't cloud the jurist's view, but to do so, I would have to suppose there is some other reason, besides reading the clear language of the 15th Amendment, to suppose that some other constitutional point obtains, what with him being a strict constructionalist and texturalist and whatnot. And yet, SCOTUS rulings can't overturn whole Amendments. He can't say he doesn't like it because of something in the 10th Amendment or 14th Amendent--he has to deal with what the Constitution actually says. Otherwise, that's just activism from the bench--amirite?
In consideration of the many attempts to weaken access to the ballot regardless of race, I would want to strengthen the VRA because many white peoples' right (not entitlement, and not privilege) to vote may also be infringed by state regulation. It isn't about race. It's about citizenship. Citizens should have the right to vote.
What is so fecking hard about that? No particular race is privileged by the VRA--it only guarantees equal access to the right.
Although this is nearly besides the point, unless a jurist were very much full of themselves, would they even say something like he said aloud where the people could hear? Because what he said sounded a little bit like he really thought that making sure "some people" got the same right to vote as "all people" should was prejudicial--which in and of itself seems very prejudiced against that particular "some people." Which would only serve to establish why they might require continued regulatory protection--no?
Justice Scalia might want to consider resigning if he's going to be that transparently biased, or show that much lack of interest in what the Constitution actually says.