Simple question. Simple answer.

How can a Republican Party that has alienated African-Americans and Latinos prosper politically as the white share of the electorate falls? Why, by preventing them from voting. And the Republican majority on the Supreme Court just gave the Republicans who control the Confederate legislatures permission to do just that.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

22 thoughts on “Simple question. Simple answer.”

  1. Desperate times call for desperate actions.
    The Republicans are in a Democratic presidential chokehold.
    8 years of Obama. 8 more of Hillary on the way.
    They are slowly being asphyxiated, and rather than tap out and begin anew, they are –in a dumb born of hysterical desperation — running out the clock, and hoping to effect some impossible reversal of fortune.

    Chait correctly notes today:

    Mindless right-wing hysteria, not the business lobby, is what stops Republicans from compromising with Obama. And with a congressional map that renders the House Republican majority almost fully voter-proof, that dynamic is unlikely to change until 2020 at the earliest.

    Agreed. And that explains why we must all dig deep to elect Hillary in 2016. The Obama Carbon Pollution Edicts are like a half-nelson on the body Republican.
    With them we are bending the conservative neck curve, bit by bit, closing off its windpipe, and straining their cervicals to popping.
    And as you can see, when you cut off the oxygen to the brain, desperate people do dumb desperate things…

    Which is all to suggest: This voting suppression thing isn’t going to work out for F-Troop like they think it is going to work out…

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/06/obama-on-climate-change-there-is-no-congress.html

    1. koreyel is correct. The ruling is a short-term benefit to the Republicans, but a long-term disaster for them. It is likely to energize African-American and Latino voters in 2014 and for at least a generation beyond to vote against the Republican Party. On November 5, 2014, we may be saying, “Thank you, John Roberts.”

  2. Section 2 still stands. It merely requires to to prove each case. Is this important enough to bother doing so, or not?

    Personally, I rather like the proposed new formula that would put in pre-clearance status, for perhaps a decade, any jurisdiction which lost a Section 2 case. THAT seems reasonable. As opposed to basing it on things that happened 40 years ago.

    And can we agree, finally, that the Voting Rights Act applies to discrimination against whites, too? That concession might actually get enough Republican votes to pass something, in case it’s not important to you to preserve the capacity of majority black jurisdictions to discriminate against their minorities.

    1. “That concession might actually get enough Republican votes to pass something”

      I just stare and stare at this and wonder what it could mean.

    2. Brett, you really aren’t seriously saying that white-controlled legislatures are gerry-mandering districts to make it more difficult for white men to be elected.

      No, you aren’t that stupid. But that is what your sentence says.

      1. No, I am seriously saying that blacks, in black majority jurisidictions, may currently violate the Voting rights act by violating the rights of minority whites, and it is the policy of the DOJ to never prosecute such cases, because they do not view the Voting rights act as having anything to do with protecting the rights of whites, even where they are the minority.

        If a new Section 4 were coupled to a clause making clear that the act applies just as much to cases where blacks violate the rights of whites, (Which they can easily do in many black majority cities.) Republicans might actually have some motive to vote for it. But that’s inadmissible, apparently: We have to maintain the pretense that only whites are ever the villains in discrimination cases.

        1. “it is the policy of the DOJ to never prosecute such cases, because they do not view the Voting rights act as having anything to do with protecting the rights of whites”

          Yeah, like when those two black guys stood outside that one Philadelphia polling place that one election, amirite? That’s so much more significant than your white supremacist brothers in True the Vote. Or the actions of state legislatures. Or, really, anything that goes on in the red states. THERE WERE TWO SCARY BLACK MEN!!!!!!!!!!

          Good job there.

  3. I thought that John Roberts was a smart guy with good political antennae. I’m not taking it back on the political antennae–he did an excellent job of concern-trolling in the Shelby County opinion, although that style of concern-trolling stopped being effective about 20 years ago. But his legal reasoning was extraordinarily weak. I’m not sure he is nearly as smart as thought he was. He admittedly had a hard job: in effect ignoring the plain text of the Fifteenth Amendment. But he did so in a particularly crude fashion–simply ignoring the text. It would have been better craft to interpret it away.

    I also noticed this in the Kiobel case, where I happened to agree with him. (That’s the Alien Tort Claims Act case, where he wrote the opinion holding that plaintiffs could not go after overseas human rights violators in US courts.) The legal reasoning was okay, for a secondary argument. But he barely attempted to address the main issue in the case: should US courts be in the business of setting themselves up as the flammifer of international justice? Breyer, in dissent, did a much better job with this–and I didn’t even agree with him!

    1. “in effect ignoring the plain text of the Fifteenth Amendment.”

      Nah, the second clause of that amendment reads, “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” He’s simply ruled that the word “appropriate” isn’t surplus, the legislation really does have to be appropriate. And that basing preclearance today on events of 40 years ago doesn’t cut it.

      If Congress hadn’t taken the easy way out last time they renewed, and actually rewritten the section 4 formula based on modern conditions, it would have been upheld.

      1. Of course, in constitutional circles “appropriate legislation” is taken to mean “legislation passed by accepted procedures” not “legislation favored by the reigning court”. Seems like a reasonable way to run a republic, wouldn’t you agree?

        1. Not a constitutional republic. Your rationalization for ignoring the “appropriate” doesn’t work. ALL legislation is required to be appropriate in that sense. I mean, seriously, are you suggesting that if the “appropriate” had been omitted, they’d be able to implement the 14th amendment using laws ‘passed’ in violation of the quorum requirement, or which were properly vetoed, or some such? That seems to be what you’re suggesting.

          No, the only interpretation of “appropriate” that doesn’t render the word surplus is that they can’t use the 14th as an excuse to enact anything they happen to please, the legislation has to be reasonably related to the purposes of the 14th amendment.

          A preclearance formula based on conditions 40 years ago, rather than now, is grossly inappropriate.

          1. Brett Bellmore, what specific provision of the Constitution did Justice Roberts cite as the basis for striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act? (So far, I’ve been unable to find one.)

            Can we agree that the Voting Rights Act is “reasonably related to the purposes” of the 15th amendment, since the amendment is aimed at ensuring that “(t)he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”?

          2. I think we’ve already gone over that; The 14th amendment itself is a part of the Constitution since ratification, and it says in relevant part, “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

            Roberts’ position was that a Section 4 based on conditions 40 years ago was not “appropriate”, that for the legislation to be “appropriate” it needed to be based on contemporary conditions, not historical.

  4. Amen brother Kleiman. The Shelby County V. Holder ruling yesterday was a travesty of justice. Need we any clearer proof than the sanctimonious praise of so many southern right-wingers. Here’s the SC Attorney General crowing about the “victory” for state sovereignty (aka states rights), the very subterfuge enlisted when seceding from the union in December 1860.

    In related news, South Carolina changed it’s state motto from the creepy sounding “While I breathe, I hope” (apparently hoping for a return to Jim Crow) to “South Carolina: More trouble than we’re worth since 1787.”

    http://www.wltx.com/news/article/240507/2/SC-Attorney-General-This-is-a-Victory-for-All-Voters

  5. What are the chances this will backfire? As we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, the really strict laws aren’t going to be implemented in one election cycle, and that may be one cycle too many in a lot of districts. Furthermore, by depriving the federal government of the relatively selective remedy of preclearance, the court has left only the somewhat blunter instruments of civil and criminal action. (In Texas, for example, where the court record already shows clear evidence of discriminatory intent in redistricting, as soon as an actual voter is deprived of the civil right to equal representation you’ve got a lot of liability hanging out there.)

  6. John Roberts seems to be a pleasant, decent fellow. It is therefore disconcerting that he embraces the “states’ rights” shibboleth, placing him squarely on the same side of history as Orval Faubus, Bull Conner, Lester Maddox and Trent Lott.

    If in the next life Mr. Roberts should happen to wind up in the same place as James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, I hope that they whale the dogshit out of him. Somehow I don’t think there will be any Pickrick Drumsticks lying around, though.

    1. John Roberts’s whole schtick is to seem to be a pleasant, decent fellow. I think Shakespeare had a line about that.

      1. “John Roberts seems to be a pleasant, decent fellow. It is therefore disconcerting that he embraces the “states’ rights” shibboleth, placing him squarely on the same side of history as Orval Faubus, Bull Conner, Lester Maddox and Trent Lott.”

        Do you actually listen to a smiling b-stard and think that he’s dcent, just because he’s pleasant in conversation?

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