If you are looking for a prime example of fetid racism masquerading as legal opinion emanating from the highest court in the land, I present Antonin Scalia and his views on the Voting Rights Act.
Justice Antonin Scalia this week escalated his criticism of the Voting Rights Act ahead of a Supreme Court decision expected within the next two months — raising the likelihood that he and perhaps a majority of justices will overturn the landmark law.
Speaking on Monday night at the University of California’s Washington Center, in D.C, Scalia described a centerpiece of the 1965 law as an “embedded” form of “racial preferment,” in remarks captured by the Wall Street Journal. He reportedly warned that the law would be reauthorized into perpetuity unless the courts invalidate it.
The Supreme Court is poised to rule on the constitutionality of the Voting Right Act’s Section 5, which requires state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination to receive federal pre-approval before changing their voting laws. Civil rights advocates warn that portion of the law is key to protecting minorities from discrimination.
During oral arguments in the case, Shelby County v. Holder, in late February, Scalia said that portion of the law — and its repeated renewal by Congress — reflects a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” The other conservatives justices were also deeply skeptical that Section 5 of the law remains valid given the changing times.
On Monday, Scalia also characterized the law as unfair because federal law doesn’t make similar efforts to protect whites from racial discrimination, according to the Journal.
The “emergency response” to the situation he’s referring to — the systemic denial of equal rights to citizens — had been embedded, so to speak, in the laws and traditions of this nation since its founding. And given the recent attempts by Republicans in the several states, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and of course the remnants of the Confederacy, the emergency still exists.
But as far as he is concerned, it’s the white men in this country who are in danger of losing their place at the top of the heap.