Discrimination, Past or Today, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

LBJ signing The Civil Rights Act of 1964.  credit Wikimedia Commons

President Lyndon Johnson signing The Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Is discrimination still alive in the United States of America?  The answer may not be as clear as some would have you believe.  This was not scholarly research in the sense that I did not cross reference tidbits of information received to determine validity and potential credibility issues because of internal or external variables.  I did not create a working bibliography and verify citations, and I certainly did not check any footnotes against the cited document and if applicable try to trace any secondary material back to the primary document.  Instead, I simply talked to people.

What I learned:

Discrimination has in fact been eradicated from the United States of America according to individuals who believe that they have not been discriminated against.  Whether or not they practice discrimination against others themselves does not alter their belief that discrimination no longer exists.

On the other hand, discrimination still exists in a multitude of forms if you feel that you are personally being shortchanged or if someone or something you favor is being denied something you desire.  If it is someone or something you do not like, denial is not discrimination.  If you oppose the individual for whatever reason it is, however, unfair if they are given something or even the opportunity to compete for something.   When you do not oppose, the gift or opportunity is a personal right which may be bestowed upon you by God, protected by a phrase or clause in the Constitution, or even if the Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution correctly in your mind.  Remember though, it is a right unless the Supreme Court was wrong in their interpretation, the Founding Fathers meant something else, or God agrees with you that it is not a right.

I’m glad that I did not include Affirmative Action in this exercise:

The Supreme Court is listening to arguments involving the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and in particular Section 5 of that Act.  A basic broad definition is that Section 5 requires certain states and specified counties and townships to receive federal approval in the form of pre clearance from the Department of Justice before enacting any changes to their election procedures.  More information with specifics can be found on the Department of Justice website here.

Some background:

So many sources discuss the current debate that I will not link any as I suggest any reader of this should reference their usual newspapers, audio, and visual sources from which they normally receive information.  Likewise, there are many excellent sources of scholarship on the number of Civil Rights Acts and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Even though its material predates 1965, if someone wants a basic review of Civil Rights in regard to race relations, I still recommend The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward.  I’m astounded when scholars do not cite this work or some claim it is difficult to read.  I will argue that it is practically impossible to have an understanding of Southern history without being familiar with the number of works by Woodward.  I agree that more recent scholarship exists and some of it is excellent and ground breaking in its own right, but in many ways much either builds upon Woodward or was made possible because of some of Woodward’s writings.  Please do not neglect older research in your studies.

The Question:

Should Section 5 no long apply as it is no longer needed?  In my opinion arguments that the country has changed significantly from 1965 are valid.  In some ways the discrimination of earlier generations is not as evident today.  In some ways, however, discrimination continues to exist but just in different forms and locales.

In reference to today, this proposal is so simple that I can see so many holes that it could not possibly hold water.  Still, a cast net without holes could not be tossed and a trawl made of solid material could not be pulled regardless of the TED.  Properly configured and used accordingly those nets have the potential for a mess of good eating either directly with shrimp or indirectly from your bait fish.

A Proposal:

Why not change the 9 states named in Section 5 to include all 50 states?  It’s not as bizarre as it might sound.  Some argue that too many ineligibles are allowed to illegally cast votes.  Some argue that too many people are being disenfranchised whether through gerrymandering or being required to fulfill other requirements such as a photo ID.  If Section 5 were extended, individuals would not have to file single lawsuits to address either voter fraud or loss of their franchise right.  Those rights would immediately fall under Justice Department authority and could be addressed prior to injury regardless of if it concerned fraud or discrimination.

If fraud exists, then it most certainly is not confined to a particular precinct or even state.  If discrimination or disenfranchisement exist, it could happen anywhere and not just in 9 states and specific counties and townships because it happened there before.  Times are different, and the people are different.  Why not use an existing law, close loopholes so that it can be enforced, and use it curb instances of both fraud and disenfranchisement?

I anticipate arguments about discrimination, undue hardships, and government intrusion because to some what really matters is if something applies to just me or you or to them as well.

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One thought on “Discrimination, Past or Today, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

  1. Pingback: The Unmentioned Precedent Established in the Voting Rights Act Decision of 2013: The Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder case | lablouisianaboy

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