Opinion roundup: Supreme Court's historic week

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  • Updated: June 26, 2013 - 7:44 PM

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pumiceJun. 27, 1311:43 AM

The subhead ("Same-Sex Marriage") rightly celebrates yesterday's historic rulings but, at the same time, overlooks the rest of the week. I think the Voting Rights ruling will have severe consequences, especially in combination with Citizens United.

Steve Chapman's comment on the Voting Rights Act ruling ("The unequal treatment of states has been the law since 1965. Southern states had shown a virulent determination to keep African-Americans from voting by any means. Special scrutiny made sense then. It doesn’t make much sense now."), deserves scrutiny. Begin by reading Rep. Lewis's remarks. As he cautions, "In a democracy, one act of voter discrimination should be too much." Then think about Chapman's premise. In my opinion, special scrutiny makes as much sense now as it did in 1965! A spate of ALEC model vote-suppressing legislation has been introduced in 37 state legislatures: laws selectively limiting voting days and voting hours and ALEC's favorite, photo ID legislation. That requirement goes beyond suppressing African-Americans' votes, by the way. ALEC legislation suppresses the student vote (example Texas, where military ID is accepted but not student ID); the Hispanic vote (example Texas's redistricting plan which was struck down by DoJ but now is going forward); voting by poor people who can't afford the documentation to get "free" photo ID; and the vote of elderly folks who can't get to the county courthouse or don't have a birth certificate.

These laws can be undone by court action, but the reason for special scrutiny is that once a bill is passed and signed into law, court action takes a long time. The Voting Rights law offers a remedy for special-scrutiny jurisdictions--they can bail out of scrutiny by changing their behavior.

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jdlellis1Jun. 27, 13 1:16 PM

Wow! The Supreme Court only ruled on two cases the entire session! Well, that's what Mr. Dionne appears to be saying. En Masse, for all thing things considered the Justices were more similar than different. Again, an example of the media focusing on the extremes!

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gandalf48Jun. 27, 13 4:47 PM

SCOTUS simply said that you can't use 1965 statistics to keep the southern states under different restrictions than the northern states; pretty basic and logical if you ask me. All that congress needs to do is come up with an objective formula to determine which regions/states need federal pre-approval when changing election laws (i.e. less than 25% of the minority population voting in the most recent election).

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pumiceJun. 27, 13 6:49 PM

Re: "All that Congress needs to do is come up with an objective formula to determine which regions/states need federal pre-approval when changing election laws (i.e. less than 25% of the minority population voting in the most recent election)." Alternatively, Congress could extend special scrutiny to all 50 states. Voting is the heart and soul of a representative democracy. Election codes in every jurisdiction should reflect that principle.

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gandalf48Jun. 28, 13 9:32 AM

pumice - [Alternatively, Congress could extend special scrutiny to all 50 states. Voting is the heart and soul of a representative democracy. Election codes in every jurisdiction should reflect that principle.] *** Sure that would at least be equal protection under the law for all 50 states. The only problem is that voting laws have always been within the power of the individual states; suggesting that each and every state should have pre-approval for voting law...essentially taking away the right of states to change their own voting laws. Look at Texas, they wanted to pass a Voter ID law...they had put it on hold and look at disparate impact, go through years of process and would probably be denied by the federal government because of the make up of congress and the administration...meanwhile states like Ohio can pass Voter ID and it goes into effect immediately (lawsuits can still be brought up but the lawsuit has to prove significant disparate impact). That's not fair and that's what SCOTUS knocked down...it seems perfectly fair to me if there are certain regions that need extra federal scrutiny then create some object criteria...taking away a basic state right to implement voting laws is not the answer.

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pumiceJun. 28, 1310:53 AM

Re: "The only problem is that voting laws have always been within the power of the individual states; suggesting that each and every state should have pre-approval for voting law...essentially taking away the right of states to change their own voting laws." (1) The federal government can make laws regarding federal elections. (2) State laws which affect federal elections deserve special scrutiny in all 50 states.

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gandalf48Jun. 28, 13 1:00 PM

pumice - [(1) The federal government can make laws regarding federal elections. (2) State laws which affect federal elections deserve special scrutiny in all 50 states.] *** No, states determine election law. Look at the Coleman, Franken election; was it the MN Supreme Court that was involved or was it the federal government involved? If you don't remember the MN Supreme Court was very involved in that recall, it determined the rules and the federal government stayed out of that federal election.

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pumiceJun. 28, 13 8:50 PM

Re: "[S]tates determine election law" What about Amendments 12, 15, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26? Can states flout Amendments? What about the Voting Rights Act? McCain-Feingold? US Code, Title 42? the Motor Voter Act? Can States nullify those federal election laws?

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paddlemanJun. 29, 13 1:31 PM

We should all be disappointed and quite frankly disappointed with the Supreme courts ruling on Gay marriage. 5-4; really, how can this be? If ever there should be a unanimous decision it should be allowing equal rights to all citizens. I always thought that in this country we didn't deny rights to any one person or people we give another.

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brownsbayJul. 9, 1312:20 AM

"In a 5-4 ruling that speaks well of the court and the nation, justices struck down the noxious federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, proclaiming it unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment." - Hmmmm. So that must make Clinton a homophobe? Nope. OK, I get it. He 'EVOLVED.' HMMMMMM. IOW, he stuck his stinky finger in the air. Obama did the exact same thing. These people are insufferable. States rights are DEAD.

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