I’m shocked! (not) – GOP won’t fix the Voting Rights Act

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Neo-Confederate "states' rights" GOP that still clings to its racially polarizing Southern strategy of appealing to the racism of white voters to win elections is going to prevent any fixes to the Voting Rights Act. I'm shocked! (not).

Sahil Kapur reports at Talking Points Memo, The GOP Won’t Let Congress Fix The Voting Rights Act:

Ever since the Supreme Court gutted
a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act and threw it back in Congress’s
lap, lawmakers in both parties have engaged in happy talk about the
prospects of patching the provision used to proactively snuff out voter discrimination against minorities in the state and local governments where it’s most prevalent.

But it’s looking less and less likely that a fix will be agreed to
because Republicans have little to gain and a lot to lose politically if
they cooperate.

“Ain’t gonna happen,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said late last week, according to Roll Call.

A recent House Judiciary Committee hearing made clear that Republicans have little to no interest
in reconstituting the Voting Rights Act. Judiciary Chairman Bob
Goodlatte (R-TX) opened by emphasizing that even after the Supreme
Court’s decision, “other very important provisions of the Voting Rights
Act remain in place.”

At issue is the Voting Rights Act’s now-invalid Section 4, the
formula used to determine which state and local governments must receive
federal pre-approval before changing their voting laws. It was last
reauthorized in 2006 by a 98-0 margin in the Senate and 390-33 in the
House. But for Republicans, there’s a huge difference between allowing
the renewal of a historic law for racial equality, and going out their
way to reconstitute it now that the Supreme Court has thrown out part of
it.

“Historically I fully understand why they addressed the situations
they did,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the Judiciary
Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee
, which has jurisdiction over
the issue, told reporters.
“I am just of the opinion today that we should do as the court said and
that is to not focus on punishing the past but on building a better
future.”

Rep. Trent Franks was one of only 33 House members who voted against renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. He also once famously (infamously) suggested that African-Americans were better off under slavery (in the context of abortion, natureally, for this single-issue Theocrat).

Attempting to fix the law would require Republicans to give public
scrutiny to racial disparity in the party’s geographic base. And it
would require backtracking on years of political rhetoric warning of
federal government overreach and downplaying racial inequality. On top
of that, conservative legal scholars believe the concept of preclearance is unconstitutional.

“There’s no reason for Congress to take any action,” Hans von
Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage
Foundation, said at the Judiciary hearing.

More specifically, the jurisdictions likely to be included in any new
preclearance formula comprise regions of the country that are dominated
by conservatives. These are the places where attempts at voter
discrimination are most common, and therefore subject to greater
scrutiny. Reconstituting Section 4 would mean forcing those mostly
Republican-led governments to receive federal preapproval for any
changes to voting laws, including major changes like voter ID and minor
changes like moving a polling place across the street.

* * *

A more cynical reason is Republicans recognize that without Section
4, their state and local colleagues have greater flexibility to enact
laws that make it harder for minority groups like blacks and Hispanics,
who disproportionately support Democrats, to vote
. Such efforts to
expand voter ID laws are already underway in Texas and North Carolina.
It also gives states more flexibility to gerrymander maps in a way that
alienate minorities.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recognized this fatal problem immediately
after the Supreme Court’s ruling, warning that “[a]s long as Republicans
have a majority in the House and Democrats don’t have 60 votes in the
Senate, there will be no preclearance.”

Rhetoric aside, the Republican lawmakers who actually support
a new preclearance formula are few and far between, have little
influence within the party, and admit it will be a struggle. GOP leaders
have expressed no interest in jumping into the fray.

Most Republicans simply need a plausible pretext to avoid rewriting the
Voting Rights Act, and they can subsequently let the effort wither and
die. And so far they have two. The first is that the Supreme Court
invalidated it. As Rep. Franks argued in a recent House hearing, “[W]e
should do as the court said and that is to not focus on punishing the
past but on building a better future.” The second is that the Obama
administration has ostensibly poisoned the well by last week using another provision of the Voting Rights Act to go after Texas redistricting. As recently as 2011 Texas was found by a court to have sought to marginalize minority voters.

Can't we find a candidate who can raise the kind of money it will take to run a credible campaign against this Theocrat, Trent Franks? He has got to go. He is Arizona's version of Louie Gohmert, a humiliating embarrassment.

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