Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shelby County: Time for the right to abandon the "judicial activism" meme

The Pettus Bridge - Selma, Alabama, M.L. King in the lead, March 9, 1965
"Judicial activism" was always a phony complaint, a way for segregationists to cry "N...".  Now that the right wing of the Supreme Court has stricken the Voting Rights Act by which Congress enforces the Fifteenth Amendment, it is doubtless too much to hope that the tag line will be abandoned on the political right.  I agree with Justice Ruth Ginsburg and the court's liberals dissenting today in Shelby County v. Holder:
"In the Court’s view, the very success of §5 of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy. Congress was of another mind. Recognizing that large progress has been made, Congress determined, based on a voluminous rec­ord, that the scourge of discrimination was not yet extir­pated. The question this case presents is who decides whether, as currently operative, §5 remains justifiable, this Court, or a Congress charged with the obligation to enforce the post-Civil War Amendments “by appropriate legislation.” With overwhelming support in both Houses, Congress concluded that, for two prime reasons, §5 should continue in force, unabated. First, continuance would facilitate completion of the impressive gains thus far made; and second, continuance would guard against back­ sliding. Those assessments were well within Congress’ province to make and should elicit this Court’s unstinting approbation." 

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