Wednesday, February 27, 2013
That entity is the U.S. Supreme Court. Notwithstanding its various decisions in the past upholding equal rights, Holder said that the Court's historic pattern of racial prejudice has clearly been revived, most notably by the statements of Justice Antonin Scalia, who referred to Section 5 as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement." Since the only "entitlement" granted under the Voting Rights Act is the right to vote without regard to race, the Attorney General concluded the the Court is now more of a threat to the rights guaranteed under this law than Alabama and Arizona put together.
Reporters asked if Holder had considered placing only Scalia rather than the Court as a whole under Section 5. He replied that he had considered it, especially since Justice Scalia scoffed at the relevance of the U.S. Congress renewing the Act's provisions for 25 years, after 21 hearings and thousands of pages of testimony, by a near-unanimous vote in the House and a 98-0 vote in the Senate in 2006. The renewal was signed by President George W. Bush.
That Scalia felt that all of this doesn't matter and that the Court can decide whether Section 5 is needed to safeguard voting rights for minorities, certainly suggests that he should himself be restrained by the Voting Rights Act, Holder said. But he noted that while their language was less overtly racist, the other Republican-appointed Justices seemed to agree with Scalia on his main points. Since they seem to have a majority, Holder said he had no choice but to add the Supreme Court to those states and districts within states that require Justice Department scrutiny and possible intervention, in order to protect the equal right to vote in the United States.