Tuesday, March 8, 2016

FEBRUARY 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. After the US Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Abbott wasted little time in filing a brief to re-institute the state’s discriminatory redistricting plan, the same plan the Supreme Court had ruled as unconstitutional. When US Attorney General Eric Holder denied Abbott’s request, Texas filed a lawsuit under Section 2 basing its claim on the following arguments. Give Texas credit for honesty. From the filed brief:
 
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats....The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.
 
You know, having them actually come right out and say it--that they wanted to restrict potential Democratic voters--is long overdue. But wait!  There's more. To address the actual accusations of racial bias and discrimination, Texas is using the argument that "Yeah, there may be an isolated incident or two, but it's NOTHING like it was in 1965".  
 
Texas claims that even if it did discriminate, and it stresses that it did not, it was nothing as bad as “the ‘pervasive,’ ‘flagrant,’ ‘widespread,’ and ‘rampant’ discrimination that originally justified preclearance in 1965.”
 
So as long as Texas skies aren’t alight with flames from burning crosses, what’s the big whoop? So, Texas is arguing that Section 2, and in fact the entire reasons for preclearance are all based on conditions in 1965.  And that since "things are better than in 1965" then Section 2 is null and void. Better than 1965? With Texas strict registration rules disenfranchising an estimated nearly one million voters in the 2014 election, this assertion is highly questionable. The only thing lacking is a literacy test.