BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, effectively taking the teeth out of 50 years of Department of Justice discrimination against Southern states.
You can read the full opinion HERE.
The ruling would require Congress to go back and reformulate Section 4 of the law. Something that would be extremely divisive and therefore highly unlikely. The court has in essence released Mississippi, and other southern states, from second tier state status. Without a rewrite of Section 4 to address the formula, Section 5 becomes unenforceable, as Section 4 determines what places Section 5 applies to.
The majority opinion says,
“Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2. We issue no holding on [Section] 5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.”
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and joined Justice John Roberts to vote strike down the decision. In his concurring opinion, Thomas said he would strike down Section 5, too.
This is indeed good news for Mississippi and other southern states long kept from moving forward.
I wrote about Section 5 in September of 2012 as it relates to Voter ID and other protections against Voter Fraud. The following are a few excerpts.
Over the past several years, a series of Supreme Court rulings and the resulting congressional actions have further solidified and narrowed the political and racial favoritism shown under Section 5. The provision has been bastardized into a heavy handed political tool to use against southern states. It keeps states like Mississippi in the racial “dark ages” and promotes distrust that continues to keep us divided.
It’s a slap in the face of every black southerner. The idea that blacks can’t move ahead on their own without government help is insulting. That is the basis of many of the Section 5 rulings and maneuvers over the past decade, and it’s a core reason why Mississippi and other southern states are having difficulty moving past old divides and creating new successes.
There simply is no reason, in this day and age, Mississippi should have to ask permission to innovate and proceed into the future based on race. There is no reason black Mississippians need the federal government to “protect” them from their own state. And, there is no longer evidence that white Mississippians attempt to dilute the voting strength of anyone. If there is anything we have learned at this point in our history, it is that we prosper or fail together. A law that keeps us divided is one that keeps us poor and dependent.
It appears the Supreme Court has helped Mississippi and this nation begin a healing process long overdue. This is a moment in our history we can all be proud we have lived to see.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett
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