After the Supreme Court gutted the Voter Rights Act last month, the first call for justice went to congress. They needed to rush into action and pass a new bill which didn't have to change much from the struck down one. Basically it had to do with updating the data from which the states were shown to have a history of voting rights abuses. According to Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post:
The court did not strike down the law itself or the provision that calls for special scrutiny of states with a history of discrimination. But it said that Congress has to come up with a new formula based on current data to determine which states should be subject to the requirements.
Basically, make the justification for this act more current. The stats are there. It wasn't going to be a hard thing to do. And many Democratic congresspeople vowed they'd jump into it. They had to move quickly because many of the effected states we rushing in with tighter, more restrictive voter ID laws. In the effected states, immediate movement was a priority.
Texas is the largest state that was covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval of any voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. The act also covers Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona and parts of seven other states, including North Carolina.
Unfortunately, as things so often happen in Washington, the movement lost momentum, unlike at the states level. Georgia and South Carolina -- they all were prepared with restrictions which would damped if not totally extinguish even a broad sense of fairness. And states not effected directly or totally, like Florida and North Carolina, were taking advantage of the new opportunity and were jumping in with both feet to cut down polling hours, restrict acceptable forms of identification and make the process harder for minorities. The statistics of who would be greatly effected by these new rulings were staggering. Democrats as a whole, minorities and elderly for sure and students just as certainly. Student picture ID's and even a picture government ID wasn't going to be enough in NC. So things were once again going the GOP's way of voter suppression. It's a simple philosophy. "If we can't get enough votes to beat them fairly, stop them from getting enough votes to win."
Things were looking dire, until now. Step in the Justice Department.
The Justice Department is preparing to take fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the nation, U.S. officials said, part of a new attempt to blunt the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has warned will imperil minority representation.
The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting rights issues and follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Justices threw out Section 5 of the landmark act, which protects minority voters by requiring certain states with a history of discrimination to be granted Justice Department or court approval before making voting law changes.
The Justice Department, led by the attorney general, will be attempting to use sections of the VRA to stall changes that are being pushed through state legislatures as we speak.
Holder planned to say in a speech Thursday morning in Philadelphia, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”
Seems Congress is too busy to move on voter rights. They do have time though, for more voting to repeal Obama Care, eliminating any possible path to citizenship for resident aliens here illegally in their piecemeal immigration plans, raising interest on student loans, (while touting temporary breaks from the doubling of the interest rates they imposed two weeks ago), defunding the EPA, threatening to veto any increase to the debt ceiling, and preparing to go on hiatus for a few weeks. Boy, Congress sure has a lot on their plates.Those issues are far more pressing that protecting civil rights of legal residents who's right to vote is going to be impacted.
Making news instead of working for the people is Marco Rubio who battle currently is to get his name go first as a sponsor of a 20 week ban on abortions bill. Boehner vows to bring up another vote on the affordable health care bill because he believes the 40th time will be the charm. Mitch McConnell now has his own fight in Kentucky with a primary challenge, so he doesn't have time to look into any voter rights actions. Self-preservation is job one for "What rhyme's with Mitch." And Harry Reid is trying to figure out how to get his swipe key to work for the executive senate washroom.
Fortunately Justice will pick up the baton that Congress has dropped. It doesn't mean this will be enough to prevent the proposed stern changes that NC, Florida, Georgia, Texas or other states are trying to enact. But maybe it'll get the Democrats to rally if for no other reason, than to save their seats in Congress. Those pensions look mighty nice and the longer you serve, the more you get. Greed and self interest are always good motivators -- at least in Congress.