The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

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Nordic Einar
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The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Nordic Einar » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:16 pm UTC

Yeah.

Less than two hours after this happened, Texas began redistricting. Feh.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Derek » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:52 pm UTC

Nordic Einar wrote:Less than two hours after this happened, Texas began redistricting. Feh.

State gerrymanders districts. More at 11.

Seriously, gerrymandering is nothing new, and this law did nothing to stop it. Texas has been gerrymandering for decades, and so has every other state in the nation, both those covered by this law and those not. The VRA added another step in the process, but it did nothing to prevent it. If you want anti-gerrymandering laws (and you should), then pass anti-gerrymandering laws.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Vash » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:55 pm UTC

I think that all those who gerrymander should face a pitchfork mob.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Thesh » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:28 pm UTC

My biggest fear is not gerrymandering, but at-large voting which would result in minorities getting no representation. It's probably not going to show up nationally, but will show up in some local governments who had been blocked in the past. The VRA is definitely not perfect, but it was all we had, and the current congress is not going to be able to replace it with something more universal.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:40 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Nordic Einar wrote:Less than two hours after this happened, Texas began redistricting. Feh.

State gerrymanders districts. More at 11.

Seriously, gerrymandering is nothing new, and this law did nothing to stop it. Texas has been gerrymandering for decades, and so has every other state in the nation, both those covered by this law and those not. The VRA added another step in the process, but it did nothing to prevent it. If you want anti-gerrymandering laws (and you should), then pass anti-gerrymandering laws.


Kind of where I'm at. I mean, I hate gerrymandering, but my state has already abandoned the idea of even keeping districts as one continuous area, resulting in district maps that sort of resemble a checkerboard. This is of course changed every so often, and they don't even bother to list a justification for it anymore. I don't really see how it can get any worse.

I'd love to see an end to gerrymandering, but the VRA has never been it, and I don't think there's a lot of political will to stop it, since the people making the laws tend to be those benefiting from it.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:23 am UTC

The VRA isn't *just* about gerrymandering, though it certainly acts as a check on some of the more blatantly discriminatory gerrymanders (watch for the nirvana fallacy, y'all). It covers any change to election practices in places with historically troubled policies. Stuff like voter ID laws, or reconfiguring one's polling places such that less white areas have one polling place serving 70,000 people while white districts have one for every 5000.

That sort of thing. The things those states are constantly trying to do, and keep getting shot down.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:57 am UTC

Belial wrote:The VRA isn't *just* about gerrymandering, though it certainly acts as a check on some of the more blatantly discriminatory gerrymanders (watch for the nirvana fallacy, y'all). It covers any change to election practices in places with historically troubled policies. Stuff like voter ID laws, or reconfiguring one's polling places such that less white areas have one polling place serving 70,000 people while white districts have one for every 5000.

That sort of thing. The things those states are constantly trying to do, and keep getting shot down.


Don't know that I'd consider it a nirvana fallacy. It's more of "I can't conceive of this issue getting significantly worse". On gerrymandering anyway.

And yeah, racism stuff is still an issue some places. I do not think that it's necessarily limited to the places listed, though. So, the VRA isn't particularly effective at that, necessarily.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:59 am UTC

Except for the part where the VRA has specifically stopped a thousand or so abusive policy changes of that ilk in their tracks. Like, this isn't theoretical, where one of us gets to go "I think it would" and another gets to say "yeah, but I think it wouldn't". It already happened.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:08 am UTC

It's consistently happening, even. That thing Belial just said about one non-white majority voting location serving more than ten times the number of people assigned to a majority-white polling place is an actual thing that actually happened in actual 2012.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Lucrece » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:11 am UTC

These conservative justices have too good health for my liking. Retirement/becoming deceased seems pretty far off besides maybe Thomas ;(

People complain about Iraq as Bush's disastrous legacy. To me, this is the worst of his legacy as far as domestic interests are concerned. Citizens United, now this crap.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:13 am UTC

You'd think Texas would at least pretend to not be so shitheaded, by, like, waiting a month before redistricting so they can claim it was totes unrelated to the VRA decision. And I'm going to assume a Voter ID card thing to 'prevent fraud' despite voter fraud being mostly limited to the politicians themselves (like you could get even 10,000 people to secretly vote without someone noticing something).

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:17 am UTC

Voter fraud is either impossible to detect or happens so rarely as to be a red herring.
Though I know recently an elected official was charged with voting twice, because it's hard to not notice someone voting for themselves twice...

Lucrece wrote:These conservative justices have too good health for my liking. Retirement/becoming deceased seems pretty far off besides maybe Thomas ;(

People complain about Iraq as Bush's disastrous legacy. To me, this is the worst of his legacy as far as domestic interests are concerned. Citizens United, now this crap.

On the bright side, our weather is becoming less predictable by the day so maybe one or two of them will be caught in a freak tornado.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Derek » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:22 am UTC

Belial wrote:Except for the part where the VRA has specifically stopped a thousand or so abusive policy changes of that ilk in their tracks. Like, this isn't theoretical, where one of us gets to go "I think it would" and another gets to say "yeah, but I think it wouldn't". It already happened.

And how many laws passed in non-VRA states that would have been stopped, but were never up for scrutiny?

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Telchar » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:26 am UTC

The sad thing is that, written into the law, is a provision that if the state has no actionable offenses for 10 years they can be waived from the need for oversight.

Also, I didn't think the number of policy changes prohibited was in the thousands. My understanding was that it was closer to 50.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Thesh » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:35 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Belial wrote:Except for the part where the VRA has specifically stopped a thousand or so abusive policy changes of that ilk in their tracks. Like, this isn't theoretical, where one of us gets to go "I think it would" and another gets to say "yeah, but I think it wouldn't". It already happened.

And how many laws passed in non-VRA states that would have been stopped, but were never up for scrutiny?

Probably a lot, which doesn't mean the VRA going away was a good thing, but that it should have been expanded or replaced with something more universal. Things are going to be worse now that the VRA is going away, and congress is not going to be able to get a bill passed to change that.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:55 am UTC

Telchar wrote:The sad thing is that, written into the law, is a provision that if the state has no actionable offenses for 10 years they can be waived from the need for oversight.

Also, I didn't think the number of policy changes prohibited was in the thousands. My understanding was that it was closer to 50.


The number I got was "about 1000" from I believe the NAACP, but I'll try to find a more precise recounting. I would point out, however, that given the list of states is 16 states long and the act has been in effect for 40+ years, the first part of your post would tend to imply that the number is, at absolute minimum (assuming each state only fucked up exactly once every ten years like clockwork), 64.

It is probably safe to assume that, unless state legislators are scheduling fuckups to keep themselves on the list for some reason, the actual number is much much higher. Likewise, add in the fact that the act also covered numerous individual jurisdictions within non-covered states (like manhattan), and that those jurisdictions *also* had to fuck up regularly to stay covered. And on the flip side of that same point, since 1984 counties in covered states have been able to "bail out" individually from their state by passing the same test. So for at least the last 28 years or so, each individual county currently covered has fucked up at least once (and probably much more often) every ten years or so. All of that put together puts us at least into the several-hundred area at a lowball estimate.

That said, something pointed out in the same segment that I'm pretty sure Fantastic Idea and I both watched: the vast majority of proposed changes were immediately dropped as soon as they came under scrutiny. As in, the state tried to change a policy, the oversight body went "Uhhh...we're gonna need to look at that because possible discrimination..." and the state went "oh nevermind forget I said anything."

Edit: got the number. The Us Commission on Civil Rights clocked the total number at 1400 in 2006.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Telchar » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:22 am UTC

I guess I should've clarified. The 50 or so that I was referring to was in the past decade or so.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:34 am UTC

Telchar wrote:I guess I should've clarified. The 50 or so that I was referring to was in the past decade or so.


That does in fact change the question somewhat.

Unfortunately my most recent data (in the report linked in the edit on my last post) is from 2004. That said, the number between 1982 and 2004 was 752. Or an average of 33 per year.

We can probably go ahead and assume that, since the raw number of objections has gone steadily up rather than down since the act's introduction, that it probably hasn't dropped to 5 per year since then. I would say, at a conservative estimate, the number for the last 10 years is at least 330. Given the recent spate of voter ID laws and the racist backlash to an obama presidency, I'd be incredibly surprised if it was even that low.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Magnanimous » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:42 am UTC

Derek wrote:And how many laws passed in non-VRA states that would have been stopped, but were never up for scrutiny?

I believe comments like this were why Belial said "watch for the nirvana fallacy, y'all".

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:47 am UTC

Too right. Unless someone can explain to me why, in this case, a partial fix is worse than no fix at all (which is admittedly sometimes the case!), then "this is only a partial fix!" is a manifestly crap argument.

That being said, my favorite solution (that I will never see because fuck congress) to the problem is simply to replace section 4 with a short blurb that reads "Section 5 applies to everyone forever. The formula for determining coverage is: Are you a jurisdiction? Do you have elections? Then you are covered. Jurisdictions can bail out of coverage when they have proven satisfactorily that hahahah just kidding, fuck you for trying"
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby addams » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:48 am UTC

What is the Old Saying?

It is not important Who votes.
It is important Who counts the votes.


I was a beliver until 2000.
It took more than a year for The Truth to begin to sink in.
It has been over a decade. The Truth has sunk in.

What can The People do?
Does it matter what color we are?

By 2009 I was seeing elections as a public entertainment.
The elections are the public part of what I think are Promotions.

Who is going to Win a seat has been decided long before the votes are cast.
That is Politics. There may be a better way. I am not sure.

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Dr. King was an innocent man.
Dr. King was one of Many.

We have the internet. He did not.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:16 am UTC

As I understand it, the point of contention that was struck down was that certain southern states were put under extra scrutiny under this act and that this was unfair.

I don't think you can actually dispute this - it is unfair to hold those states to a different standard - even if you think this unfairness is justified by the positive effects of greater voter representation.

That said, wouldn't the best solution have been to just extend that extra scrutiny to all states? Or am I missing something?
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:54 am UTC

Unfair is relative to whom you are being unfair to. The states involved had a record prior to the civil rights era of denying the vote to blacks by any means fair or foul. The question is, has that situation changed? This is unsurprising.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:03 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Except for the part where the VRA has specifically stopped a thousand or so abusive policy changes of that ilk in their tracks. Like, this isn't theoretical, where one of us gets to go "I think it would" and another gets to say "yeah, but I think it wouldn't". It already happened.


I do not deny that the VRA has done good in the past. However, the fact that it is geographically limited is a major flaw. Racism is not necessarily limited to those areas, and plenty of bad electoral laws have been created elsewhere. It is not unreasonable for them to require congress to make it apply universally or not at all. It's unfortunately the case that "not at all" is more likely in the current situation, voting reform never being that wildly popular among politicians(and gridlock doesn't help), but that isn't a situation the SC caused. The partial fix was never a fair fix, and there was no real motivation to replace it with one. The decision explicitly includes an invitation for congress to update the law based on modern data. That seems reasonable.

Additionally, it's of some consolation that the number of incidents has been dropping historically, though of course it isn't at zero yet.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:17 pm UTC

How dare they put on probation the states that have proven themselves to be abusive! Why, everyone, not just states, should be on probation or no one should. Because it's not fair that a violent offender has to report to a probation officer and the law abiding citizen doesn't. Why, I'd go so far as to say that since convicted felons go to prison but the not guilty aren't, therefore either we shouldn't have prison or every citizen should be behind bars!

/snark

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:17 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:How dare they put on probation the states that have proven themselves to be abusive! Why, everyone, not just states, should be on probation or no one should. Because it's not fair that a violent offender has to report to a probation officer and the law abiding citizen doesn't. Why, I'd go so far as to say that since convicted felons go to prison but the not guilty aren't, therefore either we shouldn't have prison or every citizen should be behind bars!

/snark


Oh for fucks sake.

Do you really think it's reasonable to hold two states to different legal standards based on the actions of one of their legislatures generations ago?

For that matter, why so reluctant to extend the same scrutiny to other states? Afraid of what you'll find?
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Diadem » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:33 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Do you really think it's reasonable to hold two states to different legal standards based on the actions of one of their legislatures generations ago?

If by "generations" you mean "less than a decade" then yes, I do think that's entirely reasonable.

For that matter, why so reluctant to extend the same scrutiny to other states? Afraid of what you'll find?

Holy shit, be careful there. If you make that straw man any bigger it'll undergo gravitational collapse.

No one here has expressed reluctance at putting other states under the same scrutiny. In fact quite a few people have come out and said that everybody should be under that level of scrutiny.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby induction » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:23 pm UTC

The article wrote:Section 5, which sets out the preclearance requirement, was originally scheduled to expire in five years. Congress repeatedly extended it: for five years in 1970, seven years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years. But it relied on data from the 1975 reauthorization to decide which states and localities were covered.

The current coverage system, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, is “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day."

“Congress — if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions,” he wrote. “It cannot simply rely on the past.”

...

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. But the chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.


The thing about probation is that it ends. These jurisdictions were put on probation for offenses committed long ago. The court didn't say the problem was fixed or that it wouldn't do any good to extend it, they said, 'State sovereignty is important, and not to be restricted without evidence. If you'd like to keep them on probation, justify it with recent data.' Imagine if an inmate went in front of the parole board, and the only information they used to determine if he was eligible for release was the original crime, ignoring any behavior (positive or negative) since then.

I agree that the VRA has been effective and should be continued in some jurisdictions (even extended to new jurisdictions if necessary), but I understand why the court made the decision it did. The problem seems to be that Congress can't stop with the political maneuvering long enough to do the work required to accomplish that.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:50 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:How dare they put on probation the states that have proven themselves to be abusive! Why, everyone, not just states, should be on probation or no one should. Because it's not fair that a violent offender has to report to a probation officer and the law abiding citizen doesn't. Why, I'd go so far as to say that since convicted felons go to prison but the not guilty aren't, therefore either we shouldn't have prison or every citizen should be behind bars!

/snark


Oh for fucks sake.

Do you really think it's reasonable to hold two states to different legal standards based on the actions of one of their legislatures generations ago?

For that matter, why so reluctant to extend the same scrutiny to other states? Afraid of what you'll find?

This is a misrepresentation anyway, since it's not like "Mississippi is fucked but we'll ignore New York" when Brooklyn and other areas (places in Michigan, etc) were also under scrutiny based on history of the place. The Supreme Court wants Congress to re-configure how places are singled out for scrutiny but this isn't about stuff that happened only generations ago, it's happening currently. Consistently. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:55 pm UTC

The fact that the states attempted to do things that were blocked by the VRA seems to be pretty good evidence that the probation should be extended.

Personally I think that redistricting should be down via some sort of algorithm rather than whatever the people in control say is 'fair', to eliminate Gerrymandering.

Side note, it's pronounced with a hard G, like Gary; it was named after Massachussettes governor Gerry, who changed a district in his state to something that resembled a salamander, thus the Gerrymander.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Роберт » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:10 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The fact that the states attempted to do things that were blocked by the VRA seems to be pretty good evidence that the probation should be extended.

Personally I think that redistricting should be down via some sort of algorithm rather than whatever the people in control say is 'fair', to eliminate Gerrymandering.

Side note, it's pronounced with a hard G, like Gary; it was named after Massachussettes governor Gerry, who changed a district in his state to something that resembled a salamander, thus the Gerrymander.

Why is isn't it pronounced like the name Gerry?
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:14 pm UTC

Heyyy baby wanna kill all humans?

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I do not deny that the VRA has done good in the past. However, the fact that it is geographically limited is a major flaw.


I agree. I would have liked to see it extended to all states. However, that is not the probable result of this ruling. The probable result of this ruling is it never coming back.

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, it's of some consolation that the number of incidents has been dropping historically, though of course it isn't at zero yet.


That's the opposite of true. The number of incidents has been rising steadily. The number has only been dropping as a percentage of total changes. Which is to say, those jurisdictions have been submitting an astronomically greater number of voting changes, so the percentage of them which are objected to by the AG is smaller despite the fact that the absolute number is much, much larger.

Ormurinn wrote:Do you really think it's reasonable to hold two states to different legal standards based on the actions of one of their legislatures generations ago?
induction wrote:The thing about probation is that it ends. These jurisdictions were put on probation for offenses committed long ago.

Okay, both of you listen carefully because this has already been said between one and three times in this thread:
The act only continues to affect a given jurisdiction if that jurisdiction has tried to pass a discriminatory voting change in the last 10 years. Any state and (since 1984) any individual county within that state can "bail out" of the extra scrutiny if they can submit a clean bill of electoral health for 10 years. Several jurisdictions have successfully bailed out in this fashion. Furthermore, a couple states and a handful of counties have been "bailed in" since the introduction of the act, based on their records.
What that means is that every single county in every single state that was covered has fucked up at least once since 2003. That is not "generations". That is not "long ago".
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:33 pm UTC

Yeah, it's sort of a minor 'religious war', whether that G should be hard like it originally was or soft in the way most people use it now, similar to the argument over how 'GIF' is pronounced (most Comp Sci majors insist on 'jiff' while most people use the hard G).

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:47 pm UTC

So there was a section in the VRA that said:
"The states A, b, c, d, and e will undergo scrutiny when the change voting laws."

The SC justices changed that section to:
"The states A, b, c, d, and e will undergo scrutiny when the change voting laws."

Could they have instead changed it to:
"The states A, b, c, d, and e will undergo scrutiny when the change voting laws."

Basically, can they edit sections, or are they only allowed to accept or reject the whole section as-is?
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Chen » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:00 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Basically, can they edit sections, or are they only allowed to accept or reject the whole section as-is?


They can only judge the validity of the law, not create new laws. I believe that is why they recommended that congress come up with new laws, as necessary, to deal with this issue.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby induction » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:05 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
induction wrote:The thing about probation is that it ends. These jurisdictions were put on probation for offenses committed long ago.

Okay, both of you listen carefully because this has already been said between one and three times in this thread:
The act only continues to affect a given jurisdiction if that jurisdiction has tried to pass a discriminatory voting change in the last 10 years. Any state and (since 1984) any individual county within that state can "bail out" of the extra scrutiny if they can submit a clean bill of electoral health for 10 years. Several jurisdictions have successfully bailed out in this fashion. Furthermore, a couple states and a handful of counties have been "bailed in" since the introduction of the act, based on their records.
What that means is that every single county in every single state that was covered has fucked up at least once since 2003. That is not "generations". That is not "long ago".


I get the feeling that you only read the first sentence of my post, since I did not argue that it was a good idea to end the VRA, nor that the jurisdictions in question have had a good track record since the original offenses that landed them on probation. I simply took Chief Justice Roberts at his word when he said that the VRA formula did not account for recent behavior by the jurisdictions in question. My mistake.

Be that as it may, this is the first I've heard of the bail-out and bail-in procedures. (That'll teach me to open my big mouth before at least reading the Wikipedia article.) These seem eminently sensible, and also seem to contradict the statements made by Chief Justice Roberts that the current coverage system is "based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day." Either I'm missing some key piece of information, or the Supreme Court decision was based on bald-faced lies. The former is often true, I'll not speculate on the latter. Can someone clear this up for me? Is the Supreme Court simply lying, or is there some wrinkle that I'm missing?

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Meteoric » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:33 pm UTC

The gist of it seems to be that it's unfair that jurisdiction X has to do specific things to exempt itself from the law, while jurisdiction Y doesn't, and the distinction between X and Y is based on decades-old data. Whether X still deserves the extra scrutiny doesn't negate that Y didn't even have to bail out in the first place.

This strikes me as one of those decisions where I can't quite fault the legal reasoning behind the ruling, but the actual result still seems pretty shitty.
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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby Alexius » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:38 pm UTC

induction wrote:
Belial wrote:
induction wrote:The thing about probation is that it ends. These jurisdictions were put on probation for offenses committed long ago.

Okay, both of you listen carefully because this has already been said between one and three times in this thread:
The act only continues to affect a given jurisdiction if that jurisdiction has tried to pass a discriminatory voting change in the last 10 years. Any state and (since 1984) any individual county within that state can "bail out" of the extra scrutiny if they can submit a clean bill of electoral health for 10 years. Several jurisdictions have successfully bailed out in this fashion. Furthermore, a couple states and a handful of counties have been "bailed in" since the introduction of the act, based on their records.
What that means is that every single county in every single state that was covered has fucked up at least once since 2003. That is not "generations". That is not "long ago".


I get the feeling that you only read the first sentence of my post, since I did not argue that it was a good idea to end the VRA, nor that the jurisdictions in question have had a good track record since the original offenses that landed them on probation. I simply took Chief Justice Roberts at his word when he said that the VRA formula did not account for recent behavior by the jurisdictions in question. My mistake.

Be that as it may, this is the first I've heard of the bail-out and bail-in procedures. (That'll teach me to open my big mouth before at least reading the Wikipedia article.) These seem eminently sensible, and also seem to contradict the statements made by Chief Justice Roberts that the current coverage system is "based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day." Either I'm missing some key piece of information, or the Supreme Court decision was based on bald-faced lies. The former is often true, I'll not speculate on the latter. Can someone clear this up for me? Is the Supreme Court simply lying, or is there some wrinkle that I'm missing?


At least one wrinkle missing is that bailing out requires a positive action by the jurisdiction concerned- they have to apply to be removed from the list. This is why several towns in New Hampshire remained on the list until this spring, despite in many cases having no minorities to discriminate against- a lot of these towns have populations of less than 100. They just never got round to applying to be bailed out.

As for why they were on the list in the first place? New Hampshire still had a literacy test on the books in 1968, though sources vary as to whether it was enforced. Those towns also recorded a low turnout in the 1968 election, due either to census errors or a freak snowstorm. Any jurisdiction with a literacy test and a low voter turnout got on the list.

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Re: The Supreme Court Neuters the Voter Rights Act

Postby K-R » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:49 pm UTC

Meteoric wrote:This strikes me as one of those decisions where I can't quite fault the legal reasoning behind the ruling, but the actual result still seems pretty shitty.

This is pretty much my take on it too.


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