Fwd: A Dream Undone
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:
This weekend's NYT Magazine has an in-depth story on the enormous progress that our country made since the Voting Rights Act was passed, making sure that it is easy and convenient for every citizen to vote – and "a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who, from the moment the Voting Rights Act became law, methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements":
In 2008, for the first time, black turnout was nearly equal to white turnout, and Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president.
Since then, however, the legal trend has abruptly reversed. In 2010, Republicans flipped control of 11 state legislatures and, raising the specter of voter fraud, began undoing much of the work of Frye and subsequent generations of state legislators. They rolled back early voting, eliminated same-day registration, disqualified ballots filed outside home precincts and created new demands for photo ID at polling places. In 2013, the Supreme Court, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, directly countermanded the Section 5 authority of the Justice Department to dispute any of these changes in the states Section 5 covered. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, declared that the Voting Rights Act had done its job, and it was time to move on. Republican state legislators proceeded with a new round of even more restrictive voting laws.
All of these seemingly sudden changes were a result of a little-known part of the American civil rights story. It involves a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who, from the moment the Voting Rights Act became law, methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements. The story of that decades-long battle over the iconic law's tenets and effects has rarely been told, but in July many of its veteran warriors met in a North Carolina courthouse to argue the legality of a new state voting law that the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School has called one of the "most restrictive since the Jim Crow era." The decision, which is expected later this year, could determine whether the civil rights movement's signature achievement is still justified 50 years after its signing, or if the movement itself is finished.I've said it before and I'll say it again: what Republicans are doing here is despicable, un-American and flat-out racist (what other word can be used to describe a systematic, concerted effort to suppress the black vote?). If you wonder why I'm raising this issue in an email list dedicated to education reform: if you don't think the voting power (or lack thereof) of minorities and the poor has A LOT to do with our immoral public education system, in which the color of your skin and your zip code pretty much determine the quality of public education you get, please contact me ASAP, as I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. (Every time – once a year? – I write about this, somebody gets mad at me and wants to get off my email list. Be my guest: just email Leila at firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll remove you.)
A Dream Undone
Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.