Sunday, December 11, 2011

Warning Warning Warning – Conservative Members of the Supreme Court May Be Ready to Give Republicans Unlimited Control Over Re-Districting

Conservatives on Court Ready to Use Personal Political Bias to Support GOP

Texas was awarded four new Congressional seats after the 2010 census, and since Republicans have iron clad control of the state they drew new legislative districts to favor, well, Republicans.  A federal court panel invalidated the districts and drew their own, giving the larger Hispanic population a greater potential representation.

Now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, and this can only mean that the four conservative justices want to at least consider invalidating any restrictions on setting Congressional districts. 

The justices acted on an emergency request from Gov. Perry and other state officials challenging the lower court's 2-1 decision. That lower court drew an interim map, saying primary-election deadlines were looming and the state legislature's map had not received the required federal approval under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Challenges by state Democrats and Hispanic advocacy groups have been filed under the landmark voting-rights law and the Constitution's equality guarantee.

Now if anyone believes that this action would have taken place if the situation were reversed and Texas were controlled by Democrats and the lower court drew districts favorable to Republicans, well The Dismal Political Economist has the Brooklyn Bridge that he would like to sell you for residential development.

If the Court does rule the Voting Rights bill invalid, or severely restricts its application so that in effect it becomes meaningless, Republicans will be free to set up districts that will hold Democratic and minority representation to a minimum.  Now this is not to say that Democrats don’t gerrymander, they do and Illinois this year is a great example.  But Republicans are on a mission to maximize the benefits of drawing Congressional districts in a way to produce Congressional representation that is totally skewed away from the popular vote.

The history of all of this is largely forgotten, but the reason the Voting Rights Act was passed was that Conservatives (yes, mostly Democrats in those days, but in reality politicians and people defined as Conservative more than anything else) were using the power of state and local government to deny the right to vote to American citizens.  That's correct, those folks who say they love and revere the Constitution did everything possible, including physical harm and intimidation to prevent  some citizens from voting because of the color of their skin. 

As for the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia who is the "great" Consevative Justice is the leader of the group of Justices who think "original intent" should derive Court decisions.  And the "original intent" of the Founders was that only white males who owned property should vote.  So for people like Mr. Scalia the idea of Latino's or African Americans voting and having representation must truly be an repugnant.  One imagines he just cannot wait to return America to the voting rules of 1789 and would do so if only those sneaky amendments giving women and other the right to vote weren't in the way.

A core position of Conservatives has been that activist judges vote their own personal preferences instead of following the law.  They are right, but it is Conservative justices who do this (see Bush v. Gore) and they are going to continue to do so, or at least try.  If the Voting Rights bill is upheld, it may be only by a 5-4 majority.  And that propsect should keep all Americans awake at night.

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