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Supreme Court Topples Pillar Of Civil Rights

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Supreme Court Topples Pillar Of Civil Rights


“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important.” — Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

In the half-century or so since John Lewis had his head bashed in on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Deep South has undergone a stunning social, cultural and political transformation. Just ask Paula Deen.

Her black patrons, if she has any left, are free to go inside her Savannah restaurant, request a table and pay for the privilege of her heart-attack specials. Though her recent ramblings expose racial attitudes infused with, at best, a certain clueless condescension, she came of age as Southern whites were forced to adjust to the demands of a people sick of subjugation.

She might treat her black workers with something less than fairness and respect, but it wouldn’t occur to her to segregate her dining room. The times have changed too much to allow such blatant discrimination to creep back into common practice.

Still, the conversion of hearts and minds is only part of the New South’s story. As much as traditionalists may be loath to admit it, the transformation owes much to the laws that grew out of the civil rights movement, as well as a federal judiciary that was willing to enforce them.

Until now. Last week, the radical right wing of the U.S. Supreme Court drove a truck bomb into one of the pillars of the civil rights revolution, the Voting Rights Act. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that its strict enforcement standards were antiquated, a throwback to a time when Jim Crow roamed the land.

He didn’t quite declare racism dead, but he may as well have done so. He seems to think that the law has succeeded so brilliantly that its tough oversight of certain states, mostly in the South, is no longer necessary. But it is.

Unlike social customs such as segregated dining rooms, entrenched political power is much more difficult to reform. That’s because there’s so much more at stake. Requiring the oppressor to share power with the oppressed is a tall order, demanding generations of vigilance accompanied by sanctions for the recalcitrant.

It’s true that a cursory glance suggests a Southern political establishment transformed by the ballots of black citizens. The clumsy old barriers to the voting booth have been dismantled, and black men and women have assumed the levers of power in local and federal offices. (Fewer have won statewide seats.)

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Catskinner June 29, 2013

    Racism is dead. It’s time to move on.

    1. polarbearsquares June 29, 2013

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Wait. You’re serious. o_0

    2. whodatbob June 29, 2013

      Racism is not dead it is alive and well in all 50 states as it has always been. Only now all states play by the same rules!

      1. idamag June 29, 2013

        The Civil Rights act did not kill racism. It made it safer for minorities to walk down the streets in some areas. I know people who are racist and have never been anything else. They aren’t as overt with it as they used to be. It is still there. And, if we destroy the laws put in place to protect the minorities, it won’t be long before it is out there and festering.

        1. nana4gj June 29, 2013

          No law can force anyone to change their thinking or their prejudices. It can, however, prohibit them from acting on it. In the meantime, when people cannot act out their prejudices, people begin to mingle with and live with those for whom they have held prejudices and may learn there was nothing to what they believed before. What we have now is not so much racism as just plain resentment. In so far as one who feels resentment because a minority now is seen to be “in competition” with them, I suppose that is a form of racism that requires those to continually attempt to “put some in their places” for being uppity enough to expect the same opportunities and equality and who verbalize their feelings about slurs against them.

          1. idamag June 29, 2013

            You got it. You can’t legislate thinking, but you can legislate actions.

          2. sigrid28 June 30, 2013

            I think racism is just a subset of xenophobia, fear of the other (literally), which certainly includes the resentment you speak of. To gain control over xenophobia, the quest for a hierarchy seems to dominate wherever human beings form social groups: the rule of primagenature sibling rivalry in families, is one example; strict orders of command in the military–even a military court system–is another. Maybe such hierarchies have evolved because they defuse tension in a family group. The oldest brother is going to inherit everything, so you might as well stop fighting about it. (How well did that work?) Maybe the more elaborate the hierarchy, as in the military, the better it is at allaying fear and helping the troops get along, because the precise rules for social advancement are laid out and being followed for all to see (unless you are one of the 26,000 rape victims in the military who despairs of this hierarchy rendering a just verdict in your case).

          3. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

            GREAT POST! Thank you.

          4. nana4gj July 1, 2013

            Excellent, on point.

          5. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

            Sounds like a very close approximation of what happened after Reconstruction, and what will occur all over the country because of this decision. Very insightful post, Nana.

        2. whodatbob June 29, 2013

          The law only protected a particular minority and only in southern states. So now all are on the same playing field. Sorry you can no longer get away with your racist actions in the north.

          1. nana4gj July 1, 2013

            The law may have been intended to protect a particular minority, but, as Civil Rights legislation, everyone has benefited from it in many ways, in many life situations and experiences, and we continue to do so as recently as the emergence of basic civil rights for LBGTs. If there is discrimination against any group or individual in a group, there is the potential and reality of discrimination against any of us based on someone’s, some other group’s “notion” about our unworthiness. This is why it requires laws, legislation, as stated in a previous comment by sigrid, that we sometimes need laws to protect us from our most base instincts.

            We cannot, or should not, be able to stalk someone, confront, provoke, and eventually shoot someone dead, simply because they look like what we think to be a bad person intent on doing harm and, if they defend themselves from someone who did appear to be intent on doing them harm, and get killed in the process, be declared the perpetrator of crime and the stalker and killer, the victim.

      2. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

        And the Voting Rights Act should be amended to include all jurisdictions in all 50 states under the “preclearance” clause, rather than declaring that part of the Act unconstitutional. The conservative justices (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts) along with their accomplice Kennedy got this one wrong, and that will be very clearly demonstrated in the not too distant future.

        1. nana4gj July 1, 2013

          I agree that all jurisdictions in all 50 states should be included because, today, the risk/threat, is not limited to geographics based on a history of race. We have a new history of political ideology that “targets” anyone of any color, age, etc. The game plan seems to be to redistrict and to restrict and it is as overt as can be and presents a clear and present danger to our most basic right, the right to choose our elected representatives and chart our course as citizens.

          1. RobertCHastings July 1, 2013

            Excellent observations. Clearly and simply stated in a manner even Catskinner should be able to understand.

        2. whodatbob July 2, 2013

          I agree but that is not what was in front of the court. The law as written was a bad law. Had it included all 50 States it would be good law.

          1. RobertCHastings July 2, 2013

            As it was passed in 1965, the need for limiting the scope of the preclearance clause was clearly seen. Today, yes, it should be rewritten to include ALL voting jurisdictions, and it should be enshrined as a Constitutional Amendment.

    3. nana4gj June 29, 2013

      Racism is not dead, though it may be dying. However, we no longer have just racism. We have discrimination re voting against the elderly, college students, and even, at the heart of all of this, is discrimination against those would most likely not vote for Republicans.

      That is the real intent. To reduce, eliminate, marginalize those who are most probably unlikely to secure elections for certain candidates and ideologies.

      1. Catskinner June 29, 2013

        We have discrimination against suburban voters because in the inner cities people vote multiple times and the authorities are happy to let them do it.

        1. nana4gj June 29, 2013

          In Texas, the justification for stricter voter ID in the last big election was that so many attempted to vote illegally, but they were not able to, which proves that the system of checks and balances was working just fine, the way it was. A person can attempt to do anything but if they are intercepted and prohibited, the system works. The requirement of another ID card only presents another opportunity to make fraudulent cards, etc., for which the current system of checking all ID cards, on site logs of voting, etc., will continue to work.

          It’s the voter registration process in the first place, which checks applications against death certificates, active SS #s, residency requirements, etc., and the on site poll process which keeps logs of who has already voted and where, etc., that will insure the integrity of voting, not more and more ID cards and other restrictions that have the potential of keeping legitimate voters out of the process.

          1. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

            The deprivation of voting privileges occurs, intentionally, in jurisdictions where the authorities (either local or state) change the rules shortly before the actual election day. Purging voter registration rolls based upon anything other than the definitive proof that those being purged are either dead or moved is simply another way of depriving minorities of the right to vote.

        2. highpckts June 29, 2013


        3. Allan Richardson June 29, 2013

          That charge is a Breitbart/Fox/Limbaugh/Beck fantasy, and you have no basis for it in actual evidence. Just because the Obama candidacy TWICE got more “inner cities” voters to vote legally, you just can’t believe that more voted, and you just can’t believe that suburban white people wit common sense voted with them. So, since it didn’t turn out the way it “always” has, you assume (and refuse not to believe) that it happened because of illegal votes.

        4. BDC_57 June 30, 2013

          hey catshit qiut your lying

      2. Catskinner June 29, 2013

        The only racism going on now seems to be against Paula Deen.

        1. idamag June 29, 2013

          How did you get so smart – Harvard?

      3. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

        Very clearly and simply stated. Thank you.

    4. Dominick Vila June 29, 2013

      Manifestations of racism are not as overt as they were 5 decades ago, but it is far from being dead. For a timely lesson on that subject, try to watch the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial. Perhaps more to the point, consider the many cases that should have gone to trial and never did.
      I suspect you meant to say that racism is dying, and that is a true statement, especially among the young, but it remains latent and it is likely to continue to influence our politics and way of life for at least another generation.

      1. Catskinner June 29, 2013

        The Zimmerman/Martin trial seems to be proving that Zimmerman was right all along, and the chief of police that got canned and the other city officials, etc.

        1. idamag June 29, 2013

          Here are the irrefutable facts in the Zimmerman case: Zimmerman was following the boy in his car. He called 911 and was told not to. He continued following the boy until the boy went into a courtyard. Zimmerman got out of his car and followed the boy into a courtyard. The boy was not armed. His father lived in the complex and he had a right to be there. The boy went to the store to get candy and ice tea so he, and his brother, could watch movies. He still had these items in his pocket. It was not so late at night as to cause suspicion to be walking down the street.
          Now, here is my take on the scenario: Trayvon saw he was being followed by a car. This made him nervous so he left the road and went into a courtyard. He was near the back door of an apartment. He might have been going for help. Zimmerman left his car and followed him into the courtyard with a gun drawn. Suddenly the boy found himself fighting for his life. He doesn’t know who Zimmerman is. He only knows this man might kill him.

          1. Dominick Vila June 29, 2013

            I share your perspective. It is also interesting to note that while Zimmerman’s lacerations and extensive bleeding in an area where even a 2 cm and a .5 cm laceration can result in extensive bleeding, little is being said about whether or not DNA and other evidence, such as swollen knuckles, was found on Trayvon’s bodies. The focus is strictly on the man who carried out an authorized chase and who shot a kid at point blank range.
            Even If Trayvon tried to defend himself from an unknown, armed, assailant, what’s wrong with that?

          2. idamag June 29, 2013

            And Trayvon had no way of knowing whether the aggressor was a neo Nazi or not.

          3. highpckts June 29, 2013

            That was a joke, right?

          4. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

            Did anybody get the punchline for the “knock, knock” the lawyer for Zimmerman’s defense opened his statements with? Looks like, regardless of the outcome, Zimmerman is going to have a great case for a retrial based on incompetent representation.

      2. idamag June 29, 2013

        Paula Deen proved racism is alive.

    5. Mark Forsyth June 29, 2013

      If only it were true.Not only has it never been confined to the South,it has never been limited in its application to Blacks only.Granted,the blatant racism that provided the horrors of slavery are gone,and its vestiges continue to die off,curiously it continues to evolve.
      The Supreme Court ruling was short sighted if not outright blind in regard to the continuing existence of racism. But as far as fostering the continuance of racism,it is,with eagle eye accuracy,spot on.

      1. BDC_57 June 30, 2013

        what you said is so true but catshit don’t listen to facts all he knows what fox fake news tells him.

    6. idamag June 29, 2013


    7. highpckts June 29, 2013


    8. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

      Sure, and the tooth fairy is alive and well.

  2. nana4gj June 29, 2013

    When the right wing extremist political activist Supreme Court Justices attend their Koch Brother convocations, seminars, rallies, revivals, retreats, or whatever they call them, once or twice a year, they, like all the rest of the devotees, receive their Action List, their assignment in the overall plan to take over our democracy.

    Everyone has their assignment, their role to play, and, if you are a SCOTUS, your role is judicial activism. It’s where the stuff hits the fan. If the goals cannot be met through elections, you top it off at the Supreme Court, which, of course, is “Supreme”. We cannot vote them out; we cannot challenge them. It’s done.

    If we had a decent, workable Congress, we could find a way to protect our Rights. Which is why when we can vote and use elections to make a difference, no matter the election, be they county, city, state, or federal, we should show up with whatever kind of “papers, please” that are required, line the streets around the polling place, and refuse to go home until we have voted. And if the states engage in more gerrymandered redistricting, we should lobby to use only popular vote to determine electoral victories.

    1. sigrid28 June 29, 2013

      You say, “It’s done,” and I understand why. I say, “Hang on here–time is on our side.” Let me explain. Remember seeing Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia sitting beside Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, author of the “Killing (fill in the president’s name)” book series, at the White House Correspondents’ Association banquet this year? When cronyism involving members of the Supreme Court reaches this level is this blatant, perhaps it is time to think of applying term limits. Term limits in Congress would have a similar bracing effect upon our politics, not to mention the happy consequence of draining the pockets of the Koch brothers who want to rig elections by making them have to foot the bill for more and more of them–everywhere. Waiting in long lines to vote certainly created Election Day activism among minority voters in the 2012 election, no matter how many restrictions they had to overcome. Our patience and our numbers give us time as an ally, a quantity that will not run out. Queen Elizabeth, who knew a thing or two about governance, famously said, “All my jewels for a moment of time.”

    2. BDC_57 June 30, 2013

      the teabaggers will try to do what hitler did to germany before wwii. I hope that the people start wake up in 2014.

  3. idamag June 29, 2013

    Now, that they have done the dirty, how long will it be before Jim Crow, lynchings, cross burnings, and poll taxes are re-instated?

    1. BDC_57 June 30, 2013

      if they get ther way it won’t long now.

    2. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

      Jim Crow has really not yet gone completely away. Tomorrow night (Monday, July 1) Anderson Cooper is having a special on the discussion of Racism. Don Lemon on CNN yesterday had a very good panel on the same subject. It looks like finally, perhaps with the help of Paula Dean, we will have that dialogue Obama promised five years ago. Talking about it will bring the truth of it out into the light and expose those who have been hidden, if only in their own minds.

  4. tdm3624 June 29, 2013

    I don’t think the voter ID requirement would be bad if the law was enacted with plenty of time for people to obtain an ID and those IDs were free of charge. The problem with most of the voter ID laws is that they put a fee on it, making them unaffordable for many. I would like to know if anyone else has another opinion though. I hear a lot about how voter Id laws are bad but don’t seem to hear a lot about why they are bad.

    1. RobertCHastings June 30, 2013

      Even today, many people do not have the documents necessary to obtain valid voter ID. A program run by the Federal government to oversee it and that provides valid voter ID for free sounds like a great idea. However, now that the Voting Rights Act has been eviscerated, that does not seem very likely. If you need reasons why the proposed voter ID laws would be bad, do a little research on the reason for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, why it was necessary and how it came into existence, as well as the political fallout from its passage. If the Act becomes ineffective, then the regime it replaced will unquestionably reappear. The conditions blacks in the South faced 48 years ago will return to the South, and to many other jurisdictions that were NOT covered by the original ACT, as was made clear by the incidents of voter fraud and intimidation that occurred this past November.

    2. tax payer July 6, 2013

      If they can afford beer and cigarettes surely they can afford a free ID, but they have to make an effort, and not expect the ID to come to their door.

  5. RobertCHastings June 29, 2013

    Unfortunately, the law did not prevent a man from killing him. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is the testimonial of a man who ultimately believed in this country, and who believed that this country would ultimately kill him. We know he is looking down on us and seeing what is happening and wondering if everything he endured in the name of freedom and justice was worth it.

  6. RobertCHastings June 29, 2013

    Racism is NOT dead, in the South OR many other places around the country, and Roberts has unleashed the hounds of hell, knowingly.

    1. BDC_57 June 30, 2013

      no it’s not look how the trolls talk when they post in here.

    2. tax payer July 3, 2013

      People think you are a Racists because you want the best for your country and they are the Racists for thinking we have to change for them.

      1. RobertCHastings July 3, 2013

        I think everyone wants what is best for our country. The problem is how some people define our country. Some take a very narrow, limited, less-inclusive view of America than others. If, as most of us would like to believe, this country was founded upon Christian principles, this country SHOULD be defined in the broadest possible terms.

  7. ococoob July 1, 2013

    Jim Crow NOW roams the northern states. Look at what was going on in Pennsylvania and Ohio the last election. VOTER SUPPRESSION is alive and well there. Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act should not APPLY to all 50 states of the Union!


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