BOOM: Supreme Court declares Section IV of VRA unconstitutional.

Short version: Section V (enforcing preclearances for racial gerrymandering) was not touched, but Section IV (that dictates the criteria used to determine when such a thing would be necessary) was killed, on the grounds that said criteria has long since passed its sell-by date. This effectively kills Section V, because Congress will not pass new criteria any time soon.  Chief Justice Roberts made the ruling, and it’s… elegantly vicious, in its way.

We will now pause as the Online Left freaks.

Why Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act may be going away.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is apparently spreading marmalade on his English muffins again:

During oral arguments in the Voting Rights Act case, a majority of justices appeared prepared to turn aside the solicitor general’s argument that the law’s requirement that jurisdictions with a track record of racial discrimination preclear any changes to their voting systems with Washington. Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed this feature of the Voting Rights Act—arguably the most important piece of civil-rights legislation in American history—as a distasteful “racial entitlement.” Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing justice, recognized the historical value of the act but nonetheless suggested that the method of identifying which jurisdictions are subject to the requirement had become, over the years, “improper.” “Well, the Marshall Plan was very good, too,” he said, “but times change.”

Bolding mine.  This has always been the snag with keeping Section 5 of the VRA.  Today, very few people would argue that in 1965 the federal government would not have been justified in insisting that individual states respect the US Constitution, particularly the 14th and 15th Amendments.  However, it is almost fifty years later.  The people who were segregationists then are mostly dead of old age.  Their children and grandchildren get (rightfully) offended at the suggestion that they wish to suppress minority voters – because, you understand, integration WON.  These days Section 5 gathers its primary support from its beneficiaries: entrenched minority Democratic politicians, and slightly less entrenched Republican ones*.  I recognize the tactical advantages, but speaking as a good, classical Republican I’m happy to see that Anthony Kennedy is enjoying his marmalade. Continue reading Why Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act may be going away.

Let me explain that TP VRA sneer I just did.

OK, maybe I need to explain this one a little:

Short version is, ThinkProgress is whining about gerrymandering again: specifically, they added up all the votes for Democratic House candidates, all of the votes for Republican ones, cried “A-HA!” at the way that the one was marginally higher than the other, and decided that it was all due to gerrymandering, GERRYMANDERING, I SAY!!!!!
Continue reading Let me explain that TP VRA sneer I just did.

Section V of the VRA to be revisited.

Annnnnnnd here we go:

The Supreme Court said Friday it will review a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that has been the federal government’s most forceful tool in protecting minority rights at the polls. The decision ensures that race and civil rights will be the hallmark of the current Supreme Court term.

The challenge to Section 5 of the 1964 Voting Rights Act was launched two years ago, and the court added it to its docket just days after an energized minority electorate played a critical role in the reelection of President Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

…Or, to be considerably more objective than the Washington Post feels like being: Continue reading Section V of the VRA to be revisited.

Supreme Court smacks lower courts in TX redistricting case.

Details here and here: the short version is that the USSC decided that a lower court erred because it had, to quote the New York Times, “not paid enough deference to the Legislature’s choices and had improperly substituted its own values for those of elected officials.”  The underlying issue is that there is an ongoing dispute over how the new Texas federal Congressional map should be drawn; Texas got four more seats in the latest round of redistricting, and the beleaguered Democratic minority in Texas has been using Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as their excuse to tie the entire process up in legalistic knots.  As primaries are, well, looming at this point, the aforementioned lower court (in San Antonio) had put together an interim map that more or less ignored the elected legislature’s wishes in this matter; and the Supreme Court just unanimously smacked them down for it.

This does not mean that the original Texas legislature’s maps will be used; that’s up to the currently Democratic-controlled Justice department, or else an ostensibly impartial three-judge tribunal in DC.  What it does do is reaffirm the principle that lower courts should take into account the original wishes of the legislature in emergency situations – and with an effective deadline of February 1st, this qualifies as an emergency situation – such as these.  In other words, the courts may still create interim maps (which will apply for at least the 2012 election cycle) while the final maps are being resolved; what they can not do is ignore the original wishes of the legislature, to the extent that the San Antonio court did. Continue reading Supreme Court smacks lower courts in TX redistricting case.

Democrats condemn racist redistricting map! …for Illinois.

No, really: all three African-American Congressmen from Illinois are loudly complaining that the current redistricting map as drawn may be in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  Illinois Republicans are currently suing to have the map overturned, largely on the grounds that under the usual interpretation of federal law the new map needs to have more than one majority-Hispanic district.  As this Roll Call article notes:

The Hispanic population in Illinois is greater than the black population. But the map drawn by Illinois Democrats creates three districts with a black voting-age population of more than 50 percent and one district with a Hispanic voting-age population of almost 66 percent. The district with the Hispanic super majority was drawn for Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D).

…and that Representatives Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Bobby Rush all refused to contribute to the Democratic defense fund set up to handle court costs from the lawsuit (Jackson in particular has been pushing Section 2 issues with this administration).  To call this open break within the Democratic party ‘awkward’ is an understatement; it is in fact seriously jeopardizing the Left’s attempt to retroactively destroy the GOP’s remarkable gains in Illinois in 2010. Continue reading Democrats condemn racist redistricting map! …for Illinois.

2nd NC redistricting map more pointed than 1st one.

When the first North Carolina redistricting map came out at the beginning of July,  Democrats of course bawled like stuck calves.  Speaking objectively, this wasn’t a surprise: the way that it was set up, it put four Democratic Congressmen – Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre, Brad Miller, & Heath Shuler – at a serious disadvantage in the 2012 elections.  Put simply, the map threatened to flip NC from 6/7 GOP/DEM to 8/5 GOP/DEM, or even 10/3. If you examine the previous map, you’ll understand why such a dramatic shift; the Democrats went notoriously overboard in gerrymandering in 2000, when they controlled the process.  In short, we had a humdinger of a karmic adjustment going on in North Carolina.

But then something interesting happened: Rep. GK Butterfield (D, NC-01) started complaining.  Rep. Butterfield is a beneficiary (along with Rep. Mel Watts of NC-12) of the racial gerrymandering system set up in response to the Voting Rights Act; and he made some rather pointed objections to the first map, arguing that it ‘disenfranchised’ some of his former constituents by moving them into majority-white districts.  North Carolinan Republicans thought about it – and must have decided that they agreed, because they went into the maps again and redrew both Butterfield’s and Watt’s districts to make them more in line with the VRA’s perceived guidelines.

Of course, that meant that they had to… make some unavoidable choices: Continue reading 2nd NC redistricting map more pointed than 1st one.