After falling short of suppressing the vote in 2012, Republicans are stepping up their game
It appears the Republican Party has just about thrown in the towel when it comes to attracting minority voters to its ranks. Just about every (level headed) political analyst, both liberal and conservative, agree that the GOP is in big trouble in the next few election cycles unless it gets serious about appealing to non-white voters.
Many in the Republican Party, however, refuse to give in to their decade’s old racial sentiments. Instead of the axiom “if you can’t beat them, join them”, the Republicans are instead following “if you can’t beat them one way, beat them another way.” That’s why the GOP is turning to the Supreme Court in hopes that the court will strike down a core piece of legislation that allows minorities to be on an equal political footing with white voters; the Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965 and became a centerpiece for the broader array of civil rights legislation that passed Congress in the 1960s. The Voting Rights Act allowed black and other minority voters the right to a ballot by prohibiting states from rigging their own election rules against one group over the other. The Voting Rights Act is successful largely due to Section 5 which forces each state to clear any changes in their voting laws with the federal Justice Department first.
If the Justice Department does not approve of the change, the change in the voting law cannot be enacted. This act has helped a steadily increasing minority to participate in modern elections since the 1960s. So, any progressive minded person can see why conservatives would love to see this law struck down.
Even though George W. Bush spent tens of millions of dollars on the study of voter fraud when he was first elected, the results of which actually proved that voter fraud was a fraud itself, this subject has became a center issue for the GOP. Instead of being truly concerned with voter fraud, the GOP is using this as an excuse to try and rig state voting laws in their favor
Voter suppression is nothing new. Conservative activist and ALEC founder Paul Weyrich once said: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down”. This speech was made more than thirty years ago.
Luckily these measures have failed up until now and 2012 was no different, add to that the new measures in Virginia and Florida that are currently falling apart. The one obstacle preventing the GOP from completely uprooting election rules is the Voting Rights Act and the power the federal government has to intervene in state election laws. Because the Republican Party is finding it very hard to pass these laws locally, they have instead decided to make it a federal case.
This month the Supreme Court is set to hear Shelby County v. Holder, the right-wing’s newest attempt to overturn a key piece of civil rights legislation. Many opponents of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act have argued that racism is “no longer an issue”, the federal oversight in local voting booths is no longer needed. This is their argument despite the fact that Congress just a few years ago thought differently. Back in 2006, the Voting Rights Act was renewed for another 25 years, and many federal/state observers felt that government oversight is still necessary… What a difference the tea party makes.
At first glance it would seem the right-wing is unanimously in favor of the repeal of Section 5. Yet, this is not so clear cut. Many analysts on the right are in fact worried that this law will be struck down.
If the Roberts court strikes down Section 5, it will likely spell political disaster for the Republican Party. On the surface it may seem advantageous, but in the long term the GOP it could spell disaster. Some conservatives have pointed out that if the (mostly conservative) Supreme Court strikes down the law, it might be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party.
If the court repeals Section 5, it will be inconceivably hard for the GOP to attract all but a handful of minority voters and it will ensure the GOP’s demise each and every general election. In short, the political loss may far outweigh the gain in the next couple of election cycles and on into the future. The backlash against the GOP would be enormous from minority and liberal groups, perhaps enough to even boot the GOP from control of the House in 2014.
It is not inconceivable that the court will strike Section 5 down. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas have usually voted against cases involving civil rights to minorities, and Chief Justice Roberts has revealed his skepticism on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Progressives need to hold strong on this issue as the repeal could happen… This doesn’t just affect non-whites, anyone can find themselves removed from the voter rolls. If you’re a Democrat that lives in a Republican district and you want to vote, you’re really going to wish that this Voting Rights Act is still in place. Voter suppression will affect everyone.