By Matthew Rothschild on June 25, 2013

By Matthew Rothschild

In its 5-4 decision along partisan lines, the conservative majority tossed out the Act’s insistence that nine mostly Southern states and a few other cities and counties with a history of racial discrimination must get pre-clearance from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, called the relevant section “unconstitutional” and the calculus outdated.

But what’s really unconstitutional is the way that many Republican-dominated states are already raising barriers to voting, barriers that are aimed at African Americans, other minorities, and other groups that vote disproportionately Democratic.

The Brennan Center for Justice called these schemes “the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era,” as Kevin Alexander Gray noted in an insightful article about the Voting Rights court case earlier this year.

We’ve been seeing one Republican state after another pass Voter ID laws, even though voter fraud is already illegal and practically nonexistent. Minorities, the elderly, and students are the people least likely to have the ID on hand. We’ve seen Republican legislatures try to get rid of same-day voting, or limit absentee voting or early voting. We’ve seen Republican legislatures gerrymander one district after another to dilute the representation of African Americans. These legislatures – some of them in states that used to be, until today, covered by the Voting Rights Act pre-clearance requirement — are doing everything in their power to shrink the franchise. And now the Supreme Court has just given all of them a green light to disenfranchise. The result will be fewer Democratic votes, for sure. But much, much more seriously, the result will be an impairment of our democracy—and once again a racist one.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Sanders Introduces Bill to Curb Domestic Spying.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

 

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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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