They might as well have burned a cross on Dr. King’s grave. The Jim Crow majority on the Supreme Court just took away the vote of millions of Hispanic and African-American voters by wiping away Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
When I say “millions” of voters of color will lose their ballots, I’m not kidding. Let’s add it up.
Last year, the GOP Secretary of State of Florida Ken Detzner tried to purge 180,000 Americans, mostly Hispanic Democrats, from the voter rolls. He was attempting to break Katherine Harris’ record.
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Detzner claimed that all these brown folk were illegal “aliens.”
But Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act requires that 16 states with a bad history of blocking black and brown voters must “pre-clear” with the US Justice Department any messing around with voter rolls or voting rules. And so Section 4 stopped Detzner from the racist brown-out.
I’ll admit there were illegal aliens on Florida voter rolls – two of them. Let me repeat that: TWO aliens – one a US Marine serving in Iraq (not yet a citizen); the other an Austrian who registered as a Republican.
We can go from state to state in Dixie and see variations of the Florida purge game.
Yet the 5-to-4 Supreme Court majority ruled, against all evidence, that, “Blatantly discriminatory evasions [of minority voting rights] are rare.” As there’s no more racially bent voting games played in states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Alaska (yes, pre-clearance goes WAY north of the Confederacy), then, the justices said, there’s no more reason for pre-clearance.
Whom do they think they’re fooling? The court itself, just last week, ruled that Arizona’s law requiring the showing of citizenship papers was an unconstitutional attack on Hispanic voters. Well, Arizona’s a Section 4 state.
You’ll love this line from the Ku Klux Kourt majority. They wrote that the “coverage” of Section 4 applies to states where racially bent voting systems are now “eradicated practices.”
“Eradicated?” I assume they didn’t see the lines of black folk in Florida last November. That was the result of the deliberate reduction in the number of polling places and early voting hours in minority areas. Indeed, if the Justice Department, wielding Section 4, didn’t block Florida from half its ballot-box trickery, Obama would have lost that state’s electoral votes.
And that’s really what’s going on here: the problem is not that the court majority is racist. They’re worse: they’re Republicans.
We’ve had Republicans, like the great Earl Warren, who put on the robes and take off their party buttons.
But this crew, beginning with Bush v. Gore, is viciously partisan. They note that “minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.” And the Republican Supremes mean to put an end to that. See “Obama” and “Florida” above.
And when they say “minority,” they mean “Democrat.”
Because that’s the difference between 1965 and today. When the law was first enacted – based on the personal pleas of Martin Luther King – African-Americans were blocked by politicians who did not like the color of their skin.
But today, it’s the color of minority voters’ ballots – overwhelmingly Democratic blue – which is the issue.
In California – one of the “Old South” states that is singled out for pre-clearance – an astonishing 40 percent of voter registration forms were rejected by the Republican Secretary of State on cockamamie clerical grounds. When civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy and I investigated, we learned that the reject pile was overwhelmingly Chicano and Asian – and overwhelmingly Democratic.
How? Jim Crow ain’t gone; he’s moved into cyberspace. The new trick is lynching by laptop: removing voters, as was done in Florida and Arizona (and a dozen other states) by using poisoned databases to pick out “illegal” and “felon” and “inactive” voters – who all happen to be of the Hispanic or African-American persuasion. The GOP, for all the tears of its consultants, knows it can’t rock these votes, so they block these votes.
Despite the racial stench of today’s viciously antidemocratic ruling, the GOP majority knew they were handicapping the next presidential run by a good 6 million votes. (That’s the calculation that RFK and I came up with for racially bent vote loss in 2004 – and the GOP will pick up at least that in the next run.)
And the court knew full well that their ruling today was the same as stuffing several hundred thousand GOP red votes into the ballot boxes for the 2014 Congressional races.
The races have not yet started, but the “Katherine count” has already begun.
It was investigative reporter Greg Palast, for The Guardian and BBC Television who uncovered Katherine Harris’ purge of black voters in 2000. He is also the author of the recent New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal and Election in 9 Easy Steps. His film, Election Files, may be downloaded without charge at www.GregPalast.com.