Like many American citizens, I am saddened by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling re. the Voting Rights Act. I haven’t had time to hear the critics who have not had time to think about their response – unless, of course, there’s a leak at the Supreme Court. My response is that of a concerned citizen who has shuddered from the cold wind of incursion as I have observed the insidious maneuverings with voter rights in recent elections. The ax fell today when five Justices, led by Chief Justice Roberts, gutted the iconic center of the Voting Rights Act.
One of the arguments particularly disturbs me, i.e. Chief Justice Roberts’ justification that there is now “parity” between whites and African Americans in voter registration. The right to vote, access to the polls, involves much more than registration, as we who challenged the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment know all too well.
More chilling is the thought of leaving further explication of the Voting Rights Act to the United States Congress. The Congress that originally passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 is not today’s Congress – not only in composition but in motivation, relationship to the voters, commitment to preservation of the tenets of democracy.
The environment is also not the same. 21st Century economic realities, technology possibilities, Influences on the voting public, the power of one citizen’s vote are all very different from the one-man-one-vote world of a half century ago.
What has not changed is that every citizen has a right to register and a right to unfettered access to the voting booth or its modern equivalent.
The fact is, today’s decision affirms the imperative of constant vigilance. Though the heavy blow dealt by the decision is hard to take, it is also a clarion call to vigilance and action to preserve the inalienable right to vote. My fear the decision will cast a shadow on the voting process, that it will discourage some who surmise that the system has scant interest in defending a basic right.
We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, listen to the wisdom of others, move the issue of voter rights to the front burner, polish off our perceptive paranoia, and keep a very close eye on what comes next.
I had to get this off my chest before I move on to learn more, be on guard, and keep a keen eye on the prize.