Earlier this week, by an 8 to 1 vote, the high court decided that the time wasn’t quite right to discard a provision of the act that requires most Deep South states and more than 12,000 municipalities to seek permission from the Justice Department before changing polling places or times or reshaping electoral districts or any number of other things that could make it tough for blacks and other minorities to vote. Of course, the court narrowed the act a bit by lifting the pre-clearance provision for the Texas water district that brought the lawsuit and by allowing municipalities that have a clean record to ask for a bailout.
A surprisingly unified court found a compromise that allowed it to sidestep questions about whether the key provision of the law is constitutional, therefore avoiding a divisive showdown with Congress, which just three years ago found that the 1965 act was still needed.
The court’s eight white justices – even Scalia – decided not to gut the act that made it possible for blacks across the South to vote without having to recite the Constitution word for word or without having to guess how many bubbles were in a bar of soap as a prerequisite to vote.
Only Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s lone African-American, found the provision unconstitutional.
According to Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas Black voters no longer need voting protection. According to Thomas, the South has changed enough so that the Voting Rights Act was no longer needed. He said, “The violence, intimidation and subterfuge that led Congress to pass Section 5 and this court to uphold it no longer remains.”
Clarence Thomas is a complete ass because things have not changed that damn much; if he read the newspaper on election day he would know what continues to happen! Of course black voters no longer encounter Ku Klux Klansmen or racists armed with guns at polling stations or are asked ridiculous qualifying questions as they did during the Jim Crow days but today there are more subtle things being done that will disenfranchise blacks and other minorities from voting.
In the 2008 general elections blacks in Georgia (where Thomas is from) and other Southern states would show up to vote to the polling place listed on their voter registration cards to find that the polling station had been recently moved to a neighborhood that is five miles away – making it impossible for them to get to the polls before closing since many were working class and they had to work and take public transportation. There were many polling stations that opened in black and minority neighborhoods but had no machines or had broken machines plus a plethora of unbelievable voter disfranchisement scenarios. This was just 7 months ago!!!
A look at the electoral map shows that the above scenarios aren’t born of paranoia, but of reality. Currently the Republican Party – a party that built its ranks by playing to the fears of Southern whites – has largely been isolated to the Southern region of the United States. John McCain carried states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas. Those states have every reason to fear huge turnouts of black and minority voters since that could most probably upset the outcome in certain political contests and further loosen the Republicans’ hold on the south.
Myers Anderson, Clarence Thomas’ grandfather who raised him often said to Thomas, “Don’t shame me. And don’t shame our race.”
There is no way of knowing what Myers Anderson would think of his grandson’s performance as a Supreme Court Justice. Anderson, whom Thomas called “Daddy” died two days before his 76th birthday in 1983 while Thomas was still chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Would Myers Anderson, a black man who struggled mightily to do for himself and who, according to Thomas, routinely put up his property as bond to bail student protesters out of jail, take pride in his grandson’s service on the high court?
Would “Daddy” be able to reconcile the steadfast support that he gave the local NAACP chapter in Savannah, Georgia with his grandson’s votes on race and civil rights-voting issues, which Thomas’ black critics have characterized as traitorous?
How would “Daddy” feel if he could hear people of color say the man he helped raise from childhood should be ashamed of himself for having dishonored the seat Thurgood Marshall held?
Shame on Clarence Thomas. His vote against the Voting Rights Act that allowed his grandfather “Daddy” to vote will forever be his legacy. Shame on Thomas.