Tag Archives: Voting Rights Act

Emil Guillermo on Todd Endo, an Asian American activist at Selma, and at the March on Washington.

AALDEF-Podcast-Marching-And-Talking-With-Todd-EndoAsian-American-Activist-50-Years-After-His-First-March-On-Washington-.jpg          I met Todd Endo in 2013 at the 50th anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington. It’s the event which featured King’s “I have a dream” speech. Endo marched in 1963, and he was at King’s other big march, the one two years later in Selma, 1965.

Funny how few people conflate the DC march and Selma. Or how people don’t really understand that Selma was two years after the “Dream” speech, and a year after the Civil Rights Act. Even after that momentous bit of legislation, 1965 required the Voting Rights Act, which Selma helped bring about.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Selma, we must constantly relearn the history. Or as we’ve found out, society begins to march backwards.

My piece on Todd Endo at Selma is here.

My podcast with Endo at the 1963 March on Washington is here.



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A back-handed slap at the Voting Rights Act that renders it useless

Shelby v. Holder was another good/bad decision by the Supreme Court, an indirect shot at the Voting Rights Act’s key Section 5 provision that allows for states with bad histories (when it comes to voting rights) to submit any changes it makes to the federal government for approval.

This provision has helped expand the voter rolls for the good.

Instead of invalidating this one section as many had feared, the majority by a 5-4 vote  (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) went after Section 4, which uses a formula to define which state and local governments must comply with section 5.

In a sneaky way, the court allowed Section 5 to survive (maybe in order to avoid be seen as racist). But it said Section 4 was unconstitutional. Thus the court struck down Section 4 with a forehand slap, and on the “innocent” backhand return swing just happened to knock down Section 5.

Now that was sneaky Solomonic style.

The Voting Rights Act now goes back to Congress to decide what happens next with Section 4. And you know how well Congress does with divisive racially charged issues. 

 So what do you think the justices were really thinking about the voting rights act’s viability?

If you read my reaction to the court’s hearing of the case, you know how Scalia viewed it.


Perhaps this was the way, they could get ALL the conservatives on this one, and not look so racist. Knock down Section 4, and well, you take care of Section 5. 

But it’s actually worse. The decision doesn’t just end Section 5 as was the real issue in Shelby. Now it appears the entire Voting Rights Act, one of the most significant parts of civil rights legislation, becomes unworkable.

In terms of black and white, that’s fine. But what about the new America that goes to the polls, or because of this SCOTUS action does not?

Where’s the protection for Asian and Latino immigrants and first time minority voters? Those who need language help?

Section 4 might help us if a new inclusive formula is derived. But until it does there’s no section 5. And that means there’s no help, or federal oversight, at all.


Modern Politics: Democracy’s S&M game of sequester and Scalia’s vision of voting as racial entitlement

It’s hard to like either Congress or the Obama Administration for this sequestration nonsense. The manufactured budget cuts were intended to be so onerous, both sides would be forced to come to their senses and “do the right” thing.

Instead, the small government advocates in Congress love the the poltiical version of “50 shades…” It’s both sadistic and masochistic to do nothing, though more sadistic because the poor are getting hurt more than the wealthy. The only action Congress’ can muster is to finger-point at President Obama.

Meanwhile, the blame game also seems to suit the president just fine for now, though he should be pointing out that there’s a better way toward an improved economy than the forced austerity of sequester (look how that worked in Europe).  Obama should be making the case that more government spending actually propels the middle class and the country toward prosperity. And that government as an employer can be more effective than the private sector in getting us back on track.

But that’s way too logical for the GOP, which holds on to discredited trickle down ideas that justify tax breaks for the rich while making all the rest of us pay.

So far, I don’t’ sense much indignation anywhere. More of a resignation that this is how it works.

That’s too bad. Because that is bad government. Government that is worth hating. But it’s a slow burn. The pain is coming over time as the federal money flow stops. Will we appreciate so-called “big government” then? Or will the “small government” folks win out and force all of us to accept a diminished democracy?


So now that we’re so disgusted with Congress, should we trust it to preserve our basic right in America—the right to vote?

Some members of the Supreme Court apparently don’t think so, and based on the SCOTUS hearing last week in Shelby vs. Holder, it looks like the court may strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Justice Antonin Scalia made the case that Congress, which has upheld the Voting Rights Act since 1965, has only done so because politicians are too afraid to vote against it. Afraid to be racist?  Not Scalia, who referred to the Voting Rights Act as a “racial entitlement.”

Entitlement? Since when does voting become like Medicaid and Social Security?

See my piece at www.aaldef.org/blog