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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Blind justice

The US Supreme Court which "elected" George W. Bush, is again trying to influence the vote. And facts are not about to get in the way.

A case before the Court this week seeks to end provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act put into place to stop Southern states from efforts like poll taxes that were used to keep minority voter turnout down.

And while the modern GOP is using somewhat more subtle tactics -- shortening early voting windows and crying voter fraud from every nook and cranny -- the Court appears ready to eliminate this vital piece of law that was renewed by Congress as recently as 2006.

And nothing, not even outright lies, is off limits to aid the voter suppression efforts, as Chief Justice John Roberts showed this week.
“Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?” Roberts asked Donald Verrilli Jr., solicitor general for the Department of Justice, during Wednesday’s arguments.
“I do not know that,” Verrilli answered.
“Massachusetts,” Roberts responded, adding that even Mississippi has a narrower gap.
That should earn a "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact.

According to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees state and local elections:
“The concept of black communities in Massachusetts not voting is an old slur, and it’s not true,” Galvin said. “I guess the point [Roberts] is trying to make is Mississippi is doing so much better they don’t need the Voting Rights Act. He can still relay that conclusion, but he shouldn’t be using phony statistics. It’s deceptive, and it’s truly disturbing.”
The effort rests on the creative use of data. In the case of Massachusetts, other voting experts say, the Current Population Survey, which tracks voter statistics annually, has a margin or error that runs to double digits.

Roberts, of course, won't say where he got his factoid or explain his declaration. It's hard to defend the indefensible.

The conservative majority's likely decision to gut a key section of the Voting Rights Act needs to be seen in the context of other efforts to fight the demographic reality that the United States is on track to be a minority majority nation. And that African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans have had little reason to vote for a party that runs on exclusion.

There's a strong case to be made the court started the suppression effort when Bush v. Gore ruled against a complete recount of all Florida voters and upheld Bush's 537-vote margin.

There's an equally strong case the high court is where the GOP's suppression efforts are most likely to find solace -- unless Barack Obama gets an opportunity to appoint replacements for the partisan warriors.

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