Justice isn't always blind, but it looks in both directions
Seems the Supreme Court is one of the few institutions in the country that can be both right and wrong within the same 24 hour period. Within this 24 hour period the Supreme Court struck down a major section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. Very interesting.
Progressives were in a furry when it was announced that the Supreme Court struck down Section V, the key provision of the VRA. The provision made it mandatory for states with a history of racial segregation at the polls to have any changes in their voting laws pre-approved by the Justice Department. The Supreme Court has declared that unconstitutional by a 5-4 decision. All the conservatives on the court voted against the VRA provision.
The main reason for striking down Section V as described by the conservative justices was not really a legal argument, it was an argument of personal opinion in a way. Justices Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy basically expressed the opinion that “the country has changed” and that racism is no longer a major issue for us to worry about anymore.
This ruling ignores the fact that racism and discrimination are still problems in many parts of the United States, and that racist sentiments towards African Americans and now Latino Americans are not declining. Things have gotten better over the years, but much of the reason why things got better was because of the Civil Rights laws that were passed, Section V of the VRA playing a major part in helping to end unconstitutional restrictions at the polls for minorities.
Conservatives have wasted no time to take advantage of the ruling, Texas already confirming it will immediately implement its Voter ID laws and redistricting plans, now that it does not need Justice Department approval. The only power the DOJ has now is that it can only prosecute states once the polls are closed and discrimination can be proven after the fact.
The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, the law basically states that the federal government would not recognize same-sex couples. Therefore insurance, social security, or joint-tax return filings would not be valid at the federal level. It also stated that though a state can have same-sex marriage legal, other states do not have to recognize that marriage as valid.
DOMA’s most egregious aspect, Section 3, has now been ruled unconstitutional. This means that the federal government can now recognize same-sex couples for federal benefits, however states still have the right not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
It has been a legal whirlwind for the SCOTUS in the last 24 hours. On the one hand the court struck a major blow to voting rights here in America. On the other hand the court shot down a very discriminatory law in DOMA, but stopped short of legalizing gay marriage country wide.
In both of these cases the Supreme court didn’t rule in favor of the people. instead, they ruled in favor of states rights as if the constitution says “We the States” and not “We the People.
At any rate, it hard to see where the court will rule on various issues these days. This is the same court that ruled in favor of Citizens United, but also declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional. Justice isn’t always blind, but it tends to look in both directions.