Let’s go to school. I was confused about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Was does it do? Why was it necessary? Why was Section Five so important? Constitutional scholar Linda Monk answers all of these questions and more.
As you listen to this podcast, I would encourage you to check out some references. First, here is the Voting Rights Act. Secondly, Linda mentions a case that I had never heard of – South Carolina verses Katzenbach (more information here). You should also review the 15th amendment, which gives Congress the power to make voting fair across the US. We discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. Finally, we discuss Eric Holder’s bid to try and make sure that elections are fair for everyone.
This is a great interview and conversation. Sit back and enjoy.
Update: Linda Monk clarifies: “FYI, technically the Supreme Court did NOT decide to strike down Section 5 of the VRA; it struck down the threshold definition used in Section 4, which meant that Section 5 did not kick in.” As usual, I was kind of clueless. So, I went back to the Voting Rights Act and looked at Section 4. Of course, Linda is correct. Here’s how ScotusBlog puts it – Today the Court issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to the constitutionality of the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. That portion of the Act was designed to prevent discrimination in voting by requiring all state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures, no matter how small. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts that was joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, the Court did not invalidate the principle that preclearance can be required. But much more importantly, it held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets out the formula that is used to determine which state and local governments must comply with Section 5’s preapproval requirement, is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect unless and until Congress can enact a new statute to determine who should be covered by it.
A couple of days ago, we heard that John McCain had made a “double secret” trip to Syria. I suspect, on Sunday, we’ll see John McCain on one, two or possibly three networks. Does anybody believe that Senator McCain is going to say anything else besides how much we need to increase our military presence in Syria? Seriously, would you expect anything else? I would’ve been surprised if John McCain had come back and said, “You know what, the situation in Syria is really complex. We can’t figure out who is who. I don’t know who the good guys or the bad guys are. We need to sit this one out.” Everything that I’ve read about Syria over the last several days suggests that the conflict is getting more and more complex.
I’m not sure whether Eric Holder is an asset or liability to President Obama. What I do know is that liberals who are calling for Holder’s resignation need to step back and think just for a second. The Attorney General must be confirmed by the Senate. Who would the filibuster-loving Republicans confirm? I don’t think that we would get anybody liberal or progressive through the Senate. I think that we’re stuck with Eric Holder for good or for bad.
Terrible ratings for MSNBC. I’m not sure that this is a surprise. The one thing about Keith Olbermann was that he was entertaining. Chris Hayes is not entertaining.
Lincoln Chafee was one of the last moderate Republicans. He was the distinguished Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 through 2007. He ran for governor of Rhode Island as an Independent. As he is milling over running for reelection as governor, it’s been widely reported that he would run as a Democrat. I think this says more about the Republican Party than it does about Lincoln Chafee. There’s no room for moderates in the Republican Party.
Go San Antonio Spurs!
I must admit that I have not been following all the ins and outs of the fast and furious investigation. It seems to me that Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms simply screwed up. Somehow, while trying to track the flow of guns into Mexico, guns got into the hands of the Mexican cartel. American guns. American border patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered in a shoot-out. At the scene of his murder, several ATF firearms were found. The bullets that killed Agent Terry were not associated with the ATF firearms found at the scene. So what’s the big deal? Why is Attorney General Eric Holder being brought up on contempt of Congress charges? Well, like most things in Congress, it is complicated and political.
Over the next several days, I will try to walk through all of the data, finger-pointing and chest beating.
Basically, Fast and Furious was one of several gunwalking operations performed by the ATF between 2006 and 2011. The idea was to let guns walk from gunshows and follow the flow of guns to the bigger fish in Mexico. Once the ATF found the bigger fish, they would arrest the big fish and therefore stop some of the gunrunning. Well, there were five operations over five years. As far as I can tell, none of the operations led to the big fish. One operation after another allowed guns to flow from the US into Mexico without our grabbing the person or persons behind the scenes. The fact that one operation failed is bad, but forgivable. The fact that five operations were conducted and we didn’t get any of the big fish, and that we allowed the middle men to get away, is truly criminal. Yet, this is not what Congress has their knickers in a twist about.
More Tomorrow. What are your thoughts?