Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Antonin Scalia and the Right to Vote

Oral argument was held today in SCOTUS in the case of Shelby County vs Holder an attempt to have section 5 of the Voting Rights Act declared to be violative of the Constitution because it treats some states differently than it does other states. Section 5 of that law requires that some states, generally the states of the old Confederacy before they may make changes in their electoral laws must seek either pre-clearance from the Justice Department or from a federal court. Congress is generally required to treat each of the member states of the Union in the same manner but that is not the determining factor. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and became part of the Constitution. Section 1 of that amendment says simply and eloquently that no state may limit the right to vote on “account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Section 2 of that amendment says that the “congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The test of constitutionality is therefore not whether all states are treated equally but rather is whether or not congressional legislation is appropriate to remedy a wrong found by Congress. That standard seems pretty straight forward: is there an attempt to limit or interfere with the crown jewel of democracy, the right of citizens to vote (and to have their votes counted) by either the federal government or by any of the state governments? If there is such an attempt then Congress has the power to take whatever steps it deems 'appropriate' to remedy that fundamental wrong. That seems to be truly a no-brainer.
However at oral argument this morning one Antonin Scalia, activist judge for the right wing in America, took issue with that and called section 5 of the Voting Rights Act a 'racial entitlement' during the course of a little monologue he recited for the benefit of the crazies among us. Scalia apparently prefers a “white entitlement' to govern. It is reported that his diatribe was met by disbelieving gasps from those present in the courtroom. I submit along with Elizabeth Wydra that this is an 'American entitlemen't not a racial entitlement. Each citizen has a right to vote and a concomitant right to have that vote counted.
Mr Justice Scalia has by his comment showed both his unfitness for his office and his porcine leanings in the great struggle for equality under the law which is both the Great Promise of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration that “all men are created equal” and our Great Obligation both as citizens and heirs of that liberty to ensure that the Great Promise be actualized. It is clear to me that the House of Representatives should exercise it's power under Article I to impeach him and send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial and that upon conviction by that body he should be removed from his high office and sent off to his true destiny as a footnote to history.

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