“What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”

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    According to civil rights icon/hero, Rep. John Lewis, as reported on Twitter, “What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

    And he’s right. What the Scalia/Thomas/Alito/Roberts Supreme Court just did was right-wing, completely-out-of-control “judicial activism” (which so-called “conservatives” claim to hate when anyone else does it) at its worst. It also a potentially major gift to the GOP:

    Ten years ago I might have had a smidgen of hope that this would turn out OK. There would be abuses, but maybe not horrible, systematic ones. Today I have little of that hope left. The Republican Party has made it crystal clear that suppressing minority voting is now part of its long-term strategy, and I have little doubt that this will now include hundreds of changes to voting laws around the country that just coincidentally happen to disproportionately benefit whites. There will still be challenges to these laws, but I suspect that the number of cases will be overwhelming and progress will be molasses slow. This ruling is plainly a gift to the GOP for 2014.

    The only potential bright side here? That Democrats will be so angry about this disgraceful decision that it will galvanize our voters to turn out in droves at the polls in 2013, 2014, 2016 and beyond. Clearly, what we need to do is keep winning the White House and the Senate until we have the opportunity of tilting the Supreme Court back in the direction of sanity. This ruling, though, is EXACTLY why I’ve said in just about every presidential election that if you need one reason to turn out and vote Democratic, it’s the Supreme Court. Today, once again, we see the consequences of what happens when the Supreme Court is controlled by the Antonin Scalias and Clarence Thomases of the world. Nothing good, that’s for sure.

    P.S. As ThinkProgress explains: “Section 4 is the formula which determines which jurisdictions are subject to ‘preclearance’ under the law, meaning that new voting laws in those jurisdictions must be reviewed by the Justice Department or a federal court before they can take effect. Although today’s opinion ostensibly would permit Congress to revive the preclearance regime by enacting a new formula that complies with today’s decision, that would require a functioning Congress – so the likely impact of today’s decision is that many areas that were unable to enact voter suppression laws under the Voting Rights Act will now be able to put those laws into effect.”

    UPDATE: My friend Josh Israel writes over at ThinkProgress about the impact on Virginia and other states.

    Strict voter ID laws. Earlier this year, Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature enacted strict photo identification requirements for all voters. While a 2012 state law had survived Department of Justice review due to its flexible list of acceptable ID options, the tougher 2013 photo ID-only restrictions will likely have a discriminatory effect and would thus have been unlikely to receive approval. Now, the strict requirements will go into effect and any challenge will require a disenfranchised vote to sue and prove injury. Similar restrictions will also now take effect in other states.

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