Heard during the oral arguments on the Voting Rights Act at the Supreme Court:
Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now amounted to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
That remark created the sharpest exchange of the morning, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the other end. “Do you think that the right to vote is a racial entitlement?” she later asked a lawyer challenging the law, with an edge in her voice that left little doubt she was responding to Justice Scalia’s statement. “Do you think that racial discrimination in voting has ended, that there is none anywhere?”
Perhaps it’s time for Mr. Scalia to take a hint from Benedict XVI and find a nice quiet monastery to retire to.
Scott Lemieux at LGM sums it up:
So if I understand Scalia’s jurisprudence correctly, the 14th Amendment (which says nothing about race) applies only to racial discrimination (that affects white people) (unless a Republican has a presidential election to win), while the 15th Amendment (which explicitly forbids racial discrimination in voting and empowers Congress to enforce the provision) should not be construed as allowing Congress to prevent racial discrimination in voting, because this would be a “racial entitlement.” Fascinating.
PS: Rachel Maddow has some background on the VRA for you youngsters.