|Voting Rights Act and Senseless Commentary|
on The Rachel Maddow Show (01/14/15)
As Republicans continue their war against voting rights, Steve Kornacki (guest host of The Rachel Maddow Show last night) decided that the proper course of action is to further the myth that Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-White People in Wisconsin) is a voting rights champion.
Kornacki points out that the so-called legislative fix after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Amendment in Shelby County (Alabama) v. Holder (2013) is dead for the next two years because the current House Judiciary Committee Chair, Bob Goodlatte (R-White People in Virginia), said there is no need for a fix.
The Republican Party's attempt to obstruct as many black, brown, college-age and other non-GOP voting people as possible is a years-long project that Goodlatte, RNC Chair Reince Priebus and other Republicans never had any intention of killing, much less negating by resurrecting the Voting Rights Act after the five Republicans on the Supreme Court gutted the Act.
The problem is Kornacki (and other liberal-progressives and even the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights) knows this and yet pretends otherwise, alluding often to
Sensenbrenner refuses to support this mega Voting Rights Act (VRA) -- the Mark Pocan-Keith Ellison proposed Right-to-Vote constitutional amendment.
alleged commitment to voting rights, specifically Sensenbrenner's comments at a townhall-style meeting in March 2014 before an all white audience in Rubicon, Wisconsin (Roth, MSNBC).
After co-authoring a so-called fix, H.R. 3899, to the Voting Rights Act, Sensenbrenner said the following: "I hope the president vetoes the bill [H.R. 3899] ... If the president vetoes—well, let me rephrase that – if the president vetoes this bill, he will lose an awful lot of the African-American support that he has."
The problem with H.R. 3899 is that states' Voter ID laws would be specifically protected, and the proposed formula contains language that states "with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval."
Four voting rights violations are fine.
Consider as well, desperate liberals and crowing Republicans point to Sensenbrenner's tenure when he was the House Judiciary Committee Chair and the VRA was reauthorized as evidence that Sensenbrenner sees the light on voting rights.
If Kornacki and other liberal writers are serious about taking Sensenbrenner's words at face value, Kornacki might well consider reading Judge Richard Posner's On Suggestion of Rehearing en banc (October 2014) on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's upholding Wisconsin Photo Voter Id law five-to-five (a ruling enjoined weeks later by the U.S. Supreme Court, pending granting of cert, denial of review or Court judgment), recalling that this is the same Wisconsin law Sensenbrenner called "common sense."
The data imply that a number of conservative states try to make it difficult for people who are outside the mainstream, whether because of poverty or race or problems with the English language, or who are unlikely to have a driver’s license or feel comfortable dealing with officialdom, to vote, and that liberal states try to make it easy for such people to vote because if they do vote they are likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Were matters as simple as this there would no compelling reason for judicial intervention; it would be politics as usual. But actually there’s an asymmetry. There is evidence both that voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare and that photo ID requirements for voting, especially of the strict variety found in Wisconsin, are likely to discourage voting. This implies that the net effect of such requirements is to impede voting by people easily discouraged from voting, most of whom probably lean Democratic. (p.18)
After GOP judges on the Seventh Circuit reinstated Wisconsin's Voter ID law last year after voting had already begun, Sensenbrenner said precisely nothing against this affront to voting rights.
Finally, Kornacki may wish to give Gary May's Bending Toward Justice - The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (Gary May, Basic Books, 2013) a read and consider why the murders, the castrations, the maiming and the beatings of civil right activists demand that Kornacki not be so cavalier about Sensenbrenner and the Republicans' project to destroy the accomplishments of the civil rights movement.
Vis: George W. Bush did one hell of a job of conjuring LBJ in the White House, and as noted by May and Joseph Morgan Kousser cajoled Congress into passing a 25-year reauthorization in the Republican-controlled Congress.
(D)uring his second term Bush found it necessary to court black voters. The president's slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, which hurt blacks disproportionally and revealed again the presence of widespread poverty in the South, damaged Bush's standing. In an attempt to recoup his political fortunes as congressional elections approached in 2006, Bush turned to the black community. On a trip to Memphis visited the Loraine Motel and stood on the balcony where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. He also agreed to address the NAACP's annual convention, which he had ignored for six years. There Bush was received coolly but won a standing ovation when he expressed his support for the Voting Rights Act, urging congress to enact it then, one year before it was due to expire. This was not simply rhetoric. Behind the scenes Bush's staff encouraged Republicans, who now controlled both houses of Congress, to extend the Act. And this time the Republican congressional leadership in both the House and Senate were receptive to such appeals because if you weren't a southerner, there was no political payoff for attacking the now-iconic Voting Right Act. (pp 273-274)So, House Judiciary Committee Chair Sensenbrenner was going to defy Bush and Rove on the Voting Rights Act reauthorization of 2006? Right.
Kornacki and others betray the martyrs of the civil rights movement in refusing condemnation of Sensenbrenner for playing games with human and civil rights.
Kornacki's work last night is a disgrace, and TRMS owes a follow-up on this fraud of man whom Wisconsin knows better as Senselessbrenner.