Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his decision that “Congress did not use the record it compiled to shape a coverage formula grounded in current conditions. It instead re-enacted a formula based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day."
The Supreme Court did not declare section 5 of the law which requires federal approval for any minor changes in voting policies especially in southern states unconstitutional. That being said, section 5 cannot be enforced without section 4 which outlines the criteria for which states must approve their policies with the Department of Justice.
Roberts and his colleagues also suggested that Congress needs to update the coverage formula to meet current conditions of racism. So, are we going to trust Congress to get the job done; the same congress that failed to pass any legislation?
This comes to an important aspect though that our rights should not be voted on by members of Congress or any government entity for that matter; the government’s job is to serve as the medium to protect and uphold our rights, not to take them away.
But can Congress really understand the amount of racism that exists today?
Does the Supreme Court even understand what kind of power that they have given to politicians and local states especially for conservative ones?
For Roberts to say that the coverage formula in Section 4 is “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day” is inaccurate. People of color still face many of the same discrimination today and in some areas even worse. When it comes to the law, black people are often victims of racial profiling by police, and are then processed and prosecuted by a justice department that serves the interests of the private-prison industry which profits from more incarcerations.
People of color are often the ones who are force into low-wage service jobs because of their economic and environmental upbringing. For example, the racism in Chicago not only shows in its predominant-segregated neighborhoods, but by policies by city hall who continue to create racial-diverse conditions by closing schools and health clinics; and as a result, those living in those areas are forced to either go to prison or to get stuck in the same racial cycle of low-wage jobs.
In the 2012 election, many red states targeted people of color by enforcing laws that force people to show an ID or proof of citizenship. Not only did the right-wing target people of color, they targeted every minority and working class people. For Instance, many states shorted the amount of polling places, shorted the time of early voting and registration, and created long lines at the polling place in order to discourage citizens, many of whom had to work, from voting.
Looking at the way things are at the moment, I can say that this decision of the Supreme Court is a disaster. What was seen as a huge victory for the civil rights movement has now been destroyed, and what to follow should be a major concern for most Americans.
Leaving the criteria in Section 4 up to be decided by congress and rendering Section 5 invalid until the issues of Section 4 are resolved, only creates more power for the right-wing to discriminate against minorities and working-class people. We must ask ourselves: How far are they going to use this decision to their advantage?
Now that they have the power to write the criteria for what requires federal approval, the right-wing can target anyone that they want. Based on recent events, I see no reason why the right-wing will not try to pass voting polices to serve their interests.
Will they create literacy test again? Will they push for voting IDs and proof of citizenship? Will they target people based on gender, sex, or sexual orientation? Will they make it illegal for women who got an abortion to vote? Will they make so you have to speak English to vote? Will they shorten the voting time and registration even more in order to make it harder for working-class citizens to vote? Or what about conservative politicians who proposed we ban people on welfare from voting? The possibilities are endless. And now that they have the criteria to write their own coverage formula because conservative Supreme Court Justices like Roberts feel that the law is outdated and doesn’t reflect our society today, our basic rights as citizens that so many fought for continue to diminish.
With this in mind, I fear a similar outcome in their ruling of DOMA.