By Matthew Rothschild on February 27, 2013

On Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia was at his most intemperate.

He ripped into Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires state and local governments that have had a history of racial discrimination to "pre-clear" with the Justice Department any election law changes.

Scalia called that the "perpetuation of racial entitlement," a phrase that seemed to raise the ire of Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday. She asked the attorney challenging Section 5 whether he thought it amounted to the "perpetuation of racial entitlement," and he refused to cop to that.

Scalia also mocked the very title of the law.

"Even the name of it is wonderful -- the Voting Rights Act," he said. "Who is going to vote against that in the future?"

And he did so to argue that Congress was incapable of coming to its senses on this issue.

"I don't think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act," Scalia said. "They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act."

Congress last renewed the law in 2006, and it did so for 25 more years. The vote was 99-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House.

The overwhelming will of the people to end discrimination in voting, as expressed by their elected officials, was not of concern to Scalia on Wednesday. He scaled the heights of arrogance to levels he hasn't reach before.

As Media Matters has noted, he used to give some credence to Congress on these issues: "Even for antidiscrimination statutes that Scalia feels produce 'puzzling results,' Scalia held in the 2010 civil rights case of Lewis v. Chicago that 'it is not our task to assess the consequences of each approach and adopt the one that produces the least mischief. Our charge is to give effect to the law Congress enacted...If that effect was unintended, it is a problem for Congress, not one that federal courts can fix.'"

Now Scalia evidently thinks he can fix everything himself. And "fix" is the right word, since Republicans around the country are trying to fix elections via gerrymandering and Voter ID laws and a whole host of other gimmickry.

By tossing out Section 5, the Supreme Court would put the fix in.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Supreme Court's Push to Lift Campaign Limits."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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BREAKING NEWS: Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson of Bhopal infamy died a fugitive from justice. The Progressive got...

This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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