Submitted by: William Monroe Trotter, II
After much reflection on the rigid and almost race-batting language utilized in many sectors of the media regarding their disdain of minority power shifts, minority communities are advised to listen well. The future you may save will truly be your own. Yes, I am speaking to you Black, Brown and other poor people who will likely be included in the milieu of disenfranchised and disregarded.
Watch these same exclaimers of freedom and fairness extoll the virtue of same sex unions and not condemning the actions of activists like Tom Delay, the Texas Republican, referred to as “the Hammer,” after he initiated a redrawing of the state’s congressional districts to dilute Democratic power. (I’m just saying!) Historically, states and other governments redrew lines after the census was publish. Delay came to Texas in 2003 and shepherded through a detrimental plan not based on the 2000 census.
What could be stimulating these disdained reactions? Now for those of you who may have forgotten, the U.S. Supreme Court should be making a ruling on key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. For those that think discrimination is gone because of President Obama, hold on to your historic reminders of Poll Taxes, Jim Crow laws and grandfather clauses. Yes, this ruling will be significant and just as significant as was the Brown v. Board of Education Topeka decision of 1954, which ended public school segregation.
Fisher v. University of Texas may turn the tables and it questions whether colleges and universities can give preferential treatment to racial minorities in the admissions process. Maybe minority communities will wake up when diversity is no more a compelling governmental interest sufficient under strict scrutiny review to justify the use of racial preferences in admissions Fisher seeks to overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, the case mentioned above in which the Supreme Court ruled race could play a limited role in the admissions policies of public universities.
The Justice Department Civil Rights Division is clear: Section 5 requires “covered jurisdictionsi” to submit proposed voting changes to DOJ or the District Court of the District of Columbia for preclearance prior to their implementation. Section 5 also prohibits covered jurisdictions from adopting voting changes with a discriminatory purpose or with a retrogressive effect. A change is retrogressive if it puts minorities in a worse position than if the change did not occur.
Now Section 2 of the Act is much like the language of the 15th amendment and applies nationwide with a prohibition against the denial or abridgement of the right to vote or whether a particular electoral practice is actually discriminator and should be struck down.
Again, “Covered jurisdictions” are states, towns, or counties with an egregious history of discrimination against minority voters.” In the case of Shelby County v. Holder the Voting Rights Act is being challenged my friends and the Court will be asked to strike down a critical part of the historic act. Shelby County, Alabama, filed suit in district court, claiming that Section 5 and Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act are unconstitutional. While two courts ruled that those sections were constitutional, the Supreme Court agreed to hear and rule on the constitutionality of the Act.
My friends George Santayana put it well, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” Elections do matter. Remember in the last Presidential election 60 percent of our white citizens opposed Obama, while 90 percent of Blacks and more than 70 percent of Hispanics and Asians supported President Obama. What’s happening? What does a demographic change mean to those in power?
All sources confirm the fact that the United States is in a remarkable and profound demographic transformation, with the State of Texas in the forefront. The U.S. Census states that Texas is one of five states where people of color make up the majority of the population. The State of Texas growing diversity will have a significant impact on future election results. Frederick Douglass had a point that should be considered “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
The constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act is before the Supreme Court of the United States in Shelby v Holder. Arguments for the case were Wednesday, February 27 and a decision is expected in June. The ACLU represents a group of individual and organizational interveners in the Department of Justice’s case to uphold the VRA’s constitutionality. The Voting Rights Act is a historic civil rights law that is meant to ensure that the right to vote is not denied on account of race or color.
The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
For more information, regarding the history of Voting Rights, visit the American Civil Liberties Union website at www.aclu.org/timeline-history-voting-rights-act.