Stare Decisis My Ass

Let People VoteSteve Benen wrote an excellent article yesterday on the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder ruling (which effectively struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act), In Need of a Constitutional Rationale. You see, the majority did something that is highly unusual, but telling I think: they provided no constitutional rationale for their ruling. Normally, the Court will say something like, “This is unconstitutional because it infringes on the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.” But there is nothing at all in Shelby.

Benen contacted David Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center to get his take on the matter. Gans agreed. He said that Roberts claimed that the Voting Rights Act provision was inconsistent with the “letter and spirit of the Constitution.” But what that means is a mystery. Gans continued:

His majority opinion emphasized that the Voting Rights Act diminished the sovereignty of states, ignoring that [the] Fifteenth Amendment expressly gives to Congress broad power to prevent all forms of racial discrimination in voting by the states. As Justice Ginsburg’s powerful dissent demonstrates, the Court’s opinion cannot be squared with the text, history, and meaning of the Fifteenth Amendment.

But that hardly matters, right? Roberts is just calling the balls and strikes here. I could better accept these clear acts of judicial activism if it weren’t for the smug certainty of conservatives that it is only liberals who legislate from the bench. I fully accept that when the Court was in liberal hands, this went on. But it was nothing like this. Of course, since Bush v. Gore, no one could reasonably believe that conservatives on the Court were interpreting law so much as simply justifying how they wanted the world to function. Stare decisis, my ass.

And lest we think this is all an academic matter, Benen wrote this morning, It Is Open Season on Voting Rights Right Now In America. It didn’t take long either. In fact, it didn’t take any time at all. Republicans throughout the south were like amped up race horse in a starting gate, just waiting for the Supreme Court to give them the go ahead. “Just yesterday, Republican state lawmakers in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas all moved forward, with great enthusiasm, on new election measures intended to make it harder for traditional Democratic voters to participate in their own democracy.”

But the Defense of Marriage Act was (barely) struck down, so liberals rool, right?


Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito continues to act like a middle school boy who hasn’t learned how to deal with all those changes going on in his body.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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