A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Good job on voting rights

Written June 25th, 2013 by

courtAs soon as the Supreme Court came out with its ruling striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, President Obama and others complained. They made it sound as though voting rights were in grave danger. But the critics are completely off base.

Citizens can find out what the court actually said by reading the opinion. It’s only 68 pages. All you have to do is google Supreme Court opinions and open the one with the title “Shelby County, Alabama, versus Holder.” John Roberts, the chief justice, uses very plain language to explain why the majority struck down the law. And the explanation makes perfect sense.

In essence, the 1965 law outlawed any restrictions on voting based on race or color. But only in some states in the South with a clear record of discrimination  did it require any changes in election procedures to be cleared ahead of time by the attorney general or a federal court. The act has been renewed several times but retained the formula that made the special restrictions apply only to the designated states.

Conditions have dramatically changed since 1965. Minority registration and voting in those states are essentially the same as or better than white voting there. So there’s no longer a compelling reason to treat those states differently from others, which the Constitution forbids. The court has taken account of reality and struck down an unconstitutional law. Good job! (hh)


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