"Voting Rights, Justice Scalia, and Archie Bunker"
BY GlORiA J. BROWNE- MARSHAll | 3/8/2013, 1:24 p.m.
The U.S. Census indicates America's people of color will outnumber European-Americans. Words like "perpetuation of racial entitlement" imply people of color are receiving too much justice, leading to too much progress.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned whether Shelby County was the right party to bring this case, pointing out that Shelby County's record actually demonstrated the need for continued Section 5 pre-clearance requirements.
This voting case has provided Scalia with an opportunity to grandstand against the present administration and Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general. Scalia remains enraged by the conservatives' loss in the famous health care case.
Soon after the health care decision, a Republican-controlled House of Representatives charged Holder with contempt of Congress for his alleged role in a failed gun program begun by a prior U.S. attorney general. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "They're going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states."
The Voting Rights Act was reauthorized by 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate, and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. However, Scalia derides this near unanimous vote as evidence of political coercion. Politicians feared voting against it. By that logic, when Scalia, a Ronald Reagan nominee, was confirmed by a vote of 98-0, perhaps the Senate was coerced into voting for the first Italian- American nominated to the Supreme Court.
Fortunately, striking down Section 5 will not be a death- blow, but it will undermine progress. Scalia's vote will probably be based on some assumed mindset of the constitutional framers in 1787. However, given his "racial entitlement" rant, it may read more like an interpretation from Archie Bunker via the 1970s.
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an associate professor of Constitutional law at John Jay College in New York City, is author of "Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present," and a legal correspondent covering the U.S. Supreme Court. Twitter: @ GBrowneMarshall