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Yet More on Conservatives and the VRA


Apparently, John Roberts’s grasp of statistics ranks roughly with Glenn Reynolds’s.

Relatedly, a view from Mississippi, that racially egalitarian paradise:

“I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think McComb would be all right,” he said, contemplating the prospect of Section 5’s demise. But the law is still essential, he said, saying, “There are other places around here,” before deciding to remain discreet about where those places may be.

“I’ll tell you if he won’t,” said Johnny McCray, 37, overhearing the conversation from his haircutting station. “Amite County and Tylertown.”

Amite County, which is spoken of in similar chilled tones by black residents in McComb, sits next door.

Redistricting and poll watchers have such a history in Amite County that the older white men sitting around at the drugstore in the county seat, Liberty, can swap their favorite election stories, many of which tend to have punch lines showing federal involvement as misguided and ineffectual.

The Justice Department is not amused. As recently as 2011, it struck down the county’s redistricting map, charging that county leaders had decreased the number of black voters in one district in favor of another, while fully knowing that black turnout in the latter district had historically been very low.

The district belongs to Max Lawson, a 60-year-old rancher. Sitting in his sun-filled kitchen, Mr. Lawson, who voted against the proposed map along with the one black county supervisor, began to detail his objections to federal intervention, which mostly involved the fact that roads he arranged to have paved were now in another district. On the question of race and the need for voting controls, he seemed puzzled.

“That was generations ago,” said Mr. Lawson, adding that many of his supporters are black. “It wasn’t us.”

Percy Pittman, who as a teenager spent nights keeping an armed vigil at his church to guard against firebombers, differed in his recollection of just how far away the bad times were. But he expressed similar sentiments.

“I don’t want stay angry because of something that happened a long time ago,” said Mr. Pittman, for nearly two decades the Pike County coroner and for now the sole black countywide elected official. “I don’t even allow my children to watch ‘Roots.’ ”

Now 65, Mr. Pittman, believes that people in McComb, the largest city in Pike County, think in terms of personality rather than skin color.  That is, he clarified, most of them do.

Asked what he thought about people’s claims that racially motivated politics were completely a thing of the past in the South, Mr. Pittman hesitated for a moment.

“I think they’re full of it,” he said.

And don’t kid yourself, without the federal government and its meddling “racial entitlements,” Mississippi wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.

In fairness, the Scalia/Roberts states’ rights reading of the 15th Amendment does have precedent.   White supremacist 19th century precedent, but precedent.

…I also can’t resist quoting this, from bmaz’s follow-up to his argument that arguing that sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny is — unlike a decision striking down the PPACA that would effectively overrule McCullouch v. Maryland — a “states’ rights” argument:   “Honestly, with the tide of momentum headed in the direction it is, I am less and less convinced John Roberts wants to be on the wrong side of civil rights history either.”    Sure, that’s plausible, if you missed Wednesday’s oral arguments, Parents Involved, etc. etc.   Hell, maybe Sam Alito doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of history either — Stuart Taylor swears that he’s a moderate!

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  • Bmaz’s argument is that the application of the principles of Loving vs. Virginia to same-sex marriage is cowardly baby-splitting.

    This is not entirely convincing.

  • Randy Paul

    Coincidentally, my dad was born in McComb. I’ve been there a few times. Mr. Ptiman has it right.

  • catclub

    There is a part of the VRA that says if you go ten years without a complaint from the Justice Department, you can exit coverage, right?

    How many of the plaintiffs have done that?

  • howard

    it’s a long story, but i once had the chance to walk out on the edmund pettus bridge in selma. what you don’t generally get in the historic photos is just how high above whatever damn river it’s above the bridge actually is: so high that it triggered my fear of heights and i couldn’t continue across, although the friends i was there with did.

    i would like scalia to go stand out in the middle of the bridge, preferably under hose and dog duress, and explain the racial entitlement embodied in the vra.

    • Randy Paul

      It’s the Alabama River.

    • The Republican attack on empathy was a very, very valid display of their own regard for that quality;

      Absolutely none.

      Money, wealth, the power needed to make and keep it are the only motivating factors for these people. Even the culture wars are just a smokescreen for the rubes who have no clue of or about the game they are being played in.

  • Rarely Posts

    Although I have almost zero confidence in Roberts, I don’t think that gay rights and the rights of racial minorities are really comparable here. There is zero change that Roberts would support any legislation or government action that protects or favors racial minorities (VRA and Seattle Schools, etc.). In contrast, there is at least some (small) chance that Roberts might support gay rights. In particular, Roberts might join a pro-gay rights majority if Kennedy is already going in that direction.

    Roberts’ (potentially) different attitudes towards these issues reflects (1) his sensitivity to public opinion; (2) his desire for respect and legitimacy among the conservative and legal elite; and (3) his dedication to supporting and furthering the political power of Republicans and pro-business conservatives. To a limited extent, his vote in the PPACA case suggests that the second factor means something to him.

    With respect to race, although people are arguably becoming less racist, public opinion and elite opinion are either stable or shifting against affirmative action and other government programs that are viewed as favoring racial minorities. Many people believe (incorrectly) that racial progress means that the government no longer needs to play a role in protecting racial minorities from racism. If one goes to a Federalist Society event, you’re not going to find supporters of affirmative action, etc. Moreover, Roberts is dedicated to helping Republicans win elections, and striking down voting rights legislation is a great way to achieve that.

    In contrast, with respect to LGBT rights, public opinion and elite opinion are shifting quickly and powerfully towards gay rights and support for gay marriage. If one goes to a Federalist Society event, you’re likely to find some supporters of gay rights (even if they are skeptical of the equal protection arguments). Roberts was willing to work on Romer v. Evans, whereas it is basically impossible to believe that he would have worked to help the University of Michigan in Gruetter or Gratz. Finally, voting to strike down DOMA and/or Prop 8 might not hurt the Republican parties’ electoral chances: it would allow them to run against activist judges to energize their base, and at the same time, it would allow them to de-emphasize the issue in the general elections. Given that the issue is beginning to favor the Democrats, he might see a benefit to taking it “off the table” in the media and potentially dulling the fund-raising benefits for the Democratic Party.

    I should emphasize: I don’t see Roberts providing the swing vote to strike down DOMA or Prop 8, but there is a non-zero chance that he would. I could imagine him joining a majority that already includes Kennedy. In contrast, there is zero chance that he provides the swing-vote in favor of the V.R.A.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t think the issues are precisely the same, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Roberts add a 6th vote for a decision striking down Prop 8. But to be confident enough that Roberts doesn’t want to be on “the wrong side of civil rights history” that Obama is a coward for not making the most maximalist possible argument is deeply problematic.

      • Hogan

        Never mind that bmaz and Roberts may have different ideas about which is the wrong side of civil rights history, or even what the sides are.

      • I couldn’t help but notice that Bmaz doesn’t actually cite anything Roberts has done to suggest that he’s favorable to civil rights claims from gay people.

        It looks more like he’s reaching for straws to support his pre-ordained conclusion, that the maximalist brief that would make him feel so awesome would also just happen to be the most effective at advancing the policy goal.

      • Rarely Posts

        Yes, I agree that bmaz is wrong. I think that the Administration’s Brief was fine. Indeed, I wonder if it would have been more effective to file no brief at all: it’s not clear whether Justices Roberts or Kennedy will see Administration support for the plaintiffs as a pro or a con. I come down in favor of filing the Brief, but it’s not an obviously correct decision, even from the perspective of simply helping the plaintiffs. Of course, amici briefs are unlikely to matter here.

        Nonetheless, I do think it’s helpful to recognize that Roberts’ attitudes on these issues may differ, and I strongly suspect that the intensity of his attitudes differ. It’s helpful because it should inform litigation strategies, though Olson and his plaintiffs have already rolled those dice. It’s also helpful from a predictive perspective. Justice Kennedy appears to have more sympathy for LGBT plaintiffs demanding formal, legal equality than he does for racial minorities demanding de facto equality. The evidence suggests that Roberts has even less sympathy than Kennedy for the rights of racial minorities. The evidence, however, is far less clear on how Roberts approaches rights for LGBT individuals demanding de jure equality, but there are (small) reasons to hope for the best (mostly the current politics or it, Robert’s work in Romer, and arguably, the fact that LGBT people are seeking de jure equality).

        Basically, I just am hoping for the best in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, whereas I have abandoned hope on the V.R.A. case (please, Justice Kennedy, prove me wrong on the later!).

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right. And the idea that Roberts would find more appeal in a brief that argues that most federal and state Republican elected officials are bigots than an argument that Prop 8 violates even a modest application of longstanding precedents is plausible…if you ignore pretty much everything Roberts has even written or said.

    • swearyanthony

      Well, if you want to be blunt about it: Roberts is way more likely to run into a gay person at a cocktail party in DC than he is likely to run into a non-anglo. Well, waiters excepted.

      If he’s not careful, he might run into Andrew Sullivan at a Sally Quinn party – OMG embarrassment.

  • I think he meant to say Taxachusetts the evil center of leading catholic priests astray.

    It’s pretty apparent that even the pretension of any principles beyond ‘we hate liberals, minorities, women, and poor people’ is just too hard for these wing nuts.

    Two consecutive Republican Chief Justices have voter suppression involvement as a key part of their motivation. That’s pretty amazing, and not in a good way.

    • STH

      On Twitter the other day, Kurt Eichenwald (from Vanity Fair) repeatedly asked his conservative followers what policies they’re actually FOR, it being a given what they’re AGAINST. He finally gave up after several tries when the only responses he got were along the lines of DIE VANITY FAIR LIEBERAL.

      All they’re really for is money and power, but only for themselves and their buddies. And nothing for anybody else.

      • sparks

        The hilarious/pathetic part of it is that most don’t get money or power. The only salutary aspect for them is they made sure that (insert minority here) has even less power than them. As if that wasn’t true already. I know a few like this and on the whole they’re fairly disgusting people.

        • LosGatosCA

          See peasant resentment of peasants for the other team fueled by blatant manipulation of feudal lords who use said resentment to fight wars, build wealth, etc.

    • Davis X. Machina

      …any principles beyond ‘we hate liberals, minorities, women, and poor people’ is just too hard for these wing nuts.

      Look on it as a solution to a marketing problem. Its very simplicity is part of its appeal, and its success.

  • Todd

    Maybe the Cardinal guys can elect Scalia the pope. He likes to wear funny hats.

    Habemus Putzam!

    • swearyanthony

      Scalia as Pope gets him off the supreme court, right? I reckon that’s a worthwhile trade.

  • Data Tutashkhia

    So, this long quote, the view from Mississippi is that most of the people in McComb think in terms of personality rather than skin color, but racially motivated politics are not completely a thing of the past? Why, that sounds reassuring. I was getting the impression, from reading this blog, that there is a racist under every bed.

    • terry

      No, Mr. Pittman said people there think ‘personality rather than skin color.’ He also said the racial problems were not completely a thing of the past. And, if you think there are no racists in contemporary Mississippi you should really take a trip down there.

      • delurking

        As someone from Arkansas, who has lived in the South very nearly my entire life — hell yeah.

        • DrDick

          Yep. Grew up in Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s and left about 25 years ago. There is a reason why Obama got fewer white votes in the South than anywhere else.

        • Data Tutashkhia

          What, your uncle is a farmer and he hates rap videos?

      • Yes, but the major problem is not individual racists especially if they are themselves rather marginalized poor whites. It is racist institutions which in the US are often dominated by liberals. Universities are a very good example of one such set of institutions.

        • Malaclypse

          Example of actual racist practices of universities notably lacking.

          • Right, because there is total racial equality in admissions and hiring at US universities now. Are 15% of all faculty at US universities now Black?

            • Malaclypse

              Yep, the only possible explanation is Stalinists.

            • Hogan

              I’m sure it’s very close to that in the STEM and business fields where liberals are scarce.

        • Yes, but the major problem is not individual racists especially if they are themselves rather marginalized poor whites.

          Indeed, the problem here is the rich whites who have the influence to change the district boundaries or impose hoop-jumping voter ID requirements.

          It is racist institutions which in the US are often dominated by liberals.

          Wait wait wait – you’re bringing in your old “racist liberals” hobbyhorse to a discussion of black voter disenfranchisement in the South?

          • Liberals have not been completely free of racist practices. In the institutions liberals control in the US racism still persists. These are also pretty substantial institutions. Yet nobody here ever notes that the places most of the LGM writers work at have a severe institutional lack of minority representation. This isn’t accidental.

            • Wait wait wait – you’re bringing in your old “racist liberals” hobbyhorse to a discussion of black voter disenfranchisement in the South?

              This is a discussion of voter disenfranchisement, and voter disenfranchisement in Alabama in particular. Your take on that matter is “It is racist institutions which in the US are often dominated by liberals.”

              No, Otto, “it” – voter disenfranchisement in the US, and in Alabama in particular – has absolutely nothing to do with racist institutions dominated by liberals. Your slur – that racist institutions are “often” dominated by liberals is not only false as a generation statement, but dramatically, head-snappingly false as a response to the topic at hand.

              But you just gotta get those liberals.

              • Right there has never been any liberal racists. That completely explains Woodrow Wilson.

                • Hogan

                  Is the excluded middle really all you’ve got?

                • Malaclypse

                  That completely explains Woodrow Wilson.

                  When you make Manju look like someone concerned with current events, you should perhaps think about the course your life is taking.

                • DrDick

                  When you make Manju look like someone concerned with current events,

                  Pretty much my reaction as well. When you make Manju look good, you really need to stop fucking that walrus.

                • cpinva

                  not to be nit picky, but woodrow wilson is still dead, has been for about 70 years.

                  That completely explains Woodrow Wilson.

                  francisco franco too. neither of which has anything whatever to do with the issue at hand, denial of required 15a voting rights in shelby, al. heck, neither wilson (staunton,va) nor franco (spain) are even from shelby, al.

            • Linnaeus

              Liberals have not been completely free of racist practices.

              I’ve not seen any claim here that they were.

            • Scott Lemieux

              It seems worth noting here that my 9-person department has 5 people of color (one actually from Ghana!).

        • Rarely Posts

          So, we need to ignore the broad cultural and institutional racism that dilutes minority voting power in democratic elections until we are sure that racism has in no way influenced employment or admission at any University?

          Your comment seems like a (poorly) disguised attempt to divert attention from racial discrimination and its effects on voting and politics by combing two classics: (1) liberals are the real racists and (2) we mustn’t take steps to address racism in this context until we’ve eliminated it in this other context first.

          Not convincing.

          • No, the comment was in not in response to the original post. But, rather the claim in the comments that the real problem was racist individuals. I take this to be Data’s position, that racism is an irrational outlook by individuals and not an institutional denial of equal life chances to groups of people. Look you can blame racism in the US on individual pathological racism by conservatives all you want and ignore the role of liberals in maintaining racist institutions. But, your position is by no means uncontroversial.

            • That’s the dumbest thing you’ve written here, J. Otto.

              • Right no liberals have ever participated in racist institutions. Look there is a reason why people like Malcom X noted that no white liberal would ever consider a Black man his equal.

                • Yes, because he was talking about liberals of 50-60 years ago as well as today, and of course it’s all the liberals in MS to account for why the majority of the population there still finds interracial marriage unacceptable as of last year.

                • The individual prejudices of bigots in Mississippi regarding interracial marriage is not what causes racial inequality in the US and the rest of the world. The institutionalization of racial inequality in things like education and other important determiners of life chances is the problem. If you think individual racists in Mississippi are more responsible for continuing inequalities along racial lines than institutional under representation in white dominated universities fine. I do not.

              • Well, yes, Otto, racist institutions derive their power from the racists that run them, and please explain how the racists in MS let the liberals run things down there for them.

                • Really? So institutions run by liberals like universities have no racial inequalities? The US government’s foreign policy is run by a liberal. He is even a half black liberal. Yet, US foreign policy towards Africa is still racist just as it was under the ultra liberal Johnson who helped overthrow Nkrumah. How did that happen if only Klansmen can practice racist policies? MS is a small part of a much larger system. If you think getting rid of all the open racists in MS will end racism in the world fine. But, again I disagree.

                • Malaclypse

                  So institutions run by liberals like universities have no racial inequalities?

                  Let’s compare them to, say, central banking. Or upper management of large defense contractors.

                • Or to the US military which is both the most conservative and most racially equal institution in the US. It is far more equal than universities which are almost uniformly run by liberals.

                • Good moving the goal posts there, Otto, making your racism on an international level to sock it to liberals.

                  Yet, US foreign policy towards Africa is still racist just as it was under the ultra liberal Johnson who helped overthrow Nkrumah.

                  Yep, we still support the white minority government in South Africa, and obviously any lack of support for the Zimbabwe regime in Washington is because of racism, not because they’re kleptocrats.

            • Rarely Posts

              The comment didn’t suggest that racist institutions were unimportant; instead, the comment emphasized that racist individuals remain prevalent in Mississippi and that they are a problem for achieving racial justice and integration.

              Both of those things are true, and both are specifically true in the context of voting rights. Racial polarization and racist (individual and institutional) interference with black voting is a problem throughout this Country, but it’s particularly prevalent and problematic in the some of the jurisdictions covered under VRA Section 5 (and, I suspect, Mississippi). Direct efforts to increase the burden on voting by black people and to dilute their voting power in redistricting greatly undermine the ability of black people to participate equally in the democratic process. And the prevalence of racist individuals makes it harder to address the racist actions of the institutions. Racist individuals are more likely to feel comfortable shortening voting hours, increasing voting hurdles, and redistricting that weakens black votes. In other words, racist individuals often make institutions act more racist.

              And, once again, you’ve tried to divert the conversation by emphasizing: (1) liberals are racist too and (2) one shouldn’t focus on racism in X context without addressing it in Y. Still unconvincing.

              • Once again you are denying that liberals have any role in racist institutions and discourses and claiming that eliminating openly racist individuals will solve all problems of racial inequality. Since presumably without openly racist individuals all institutional racism will disappear. I disagree.

                • Please explain how liberals who have been dead for decades explain the racism we see today.

                • Who said they have been dead for decades? But, the whole point of institutional racism is that policies do not have to be run by open racists to have racist effects. Also there is a legacy of older policies that continue to be practiced to the disadvantage of racialized minorities even though the people instituting those policies today claim not to be racist. See for instance the works of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. His Racism without Racists: Color Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America (2009) has a good explanation of institutional racism by institutions run by liberals like universities. Also specifically on liberal racism see Steven Salaita The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims, and the Poverty of Liberal Thought – New Essays (2008). Really you should read some of the scholarship on race that exists now before making such ignorant statements.

                • I was talking about your citation of Wilson, and a few books does not a case makes.

          • Linnaeus

            Interestingly, J. Otto Pohl’s comments read an awful lot like something a 1960s New Left radical would write.

            • Yes, not everything the New Left said was wrong. A lot of stuff they said in the late 1960s and early 70s on race is still pertinent. Which is why people like Bonilla-Silva and Steven Salaita still make similar arguments regarding liberal racism today. But, for the most part the arguments of the New Left on race have been abandoned by the “Left” of today and only people on the extreme right like myself still find their arguments compelling.

              • You’re on the extreme right because you consider anything left of Attila the Hun liberal.

              • Linnaeus

                It’s not wrong to point that institutional racism remains a problem and that liberals themselves can be guilty of perpetuating the problem, knowingly or unknowingly. There’s a pretty robust discourse among the left about that.

                I find many of the arguments emanating from the right wing that “discover” racism among liberals as being disingenuous, especially when, at the same time, conservatives argue that racism is no longer really a problem or that the problem now is “reverse racism” or some such.

                It also does not follow that because white liberals are themselves not immune to racism that the answer is more conservative policy on race, whatever that policy is, particularly in light of the history of conservative opposition to anti-racist movements in, for example, the United States.

                • There is not today among the mainstream left in the US very little willingness to admit that racism can exist outside of open racists. Dark Avenger is a prime example of the attitude that Bonilla-Silva is talking about that perpetrates racism. If racism only exists among klansmen then liberal “anti-racist” institutions like universities and the presidency become immune from ever engaging in racist policies. Yet their policies still end up with consistent racist results. How can that be? It is pretty easy to understand how it comes about if you are not a liberal.

                  I have never mentioned anything about “reverse racism” or said that racism was not a problem. I said that institutional racism was a far greater problem than individual attitudinal racism. Trust me being denied an education or job is considered worse by most people than having crackers say bad things about them. I know liberals think blacks are stupid and think that the crackers calling them names is worse than being denied real opportunities by liberal run institutions. But, I work in an all black environment and they don’t see it the way the white liberals at LGM do.

                  The solution to racism to demand equality. That means the defacto racist policies of liberals and liberal institutions have to change. Pointing the finger at some openly racist crackers in Mississippi and saying if we get rid of those guys racism will cease to exist is frankly stupid. But, it is all I ever see here. So my extreme right wing solution to racial discrimination and inequality is to support equality and that includes on an international level. I know no liberal will ever accept that. But, I so what.

                • Oops that first sentence was garbled. It should read there is very little willingness on the left today to admit to the existence of liberal racism. There is also very little discussion of the role of institutions controlled by liberals in perpetrating racial inequality. There is an attitude that they have never ever been part of the race problem of the US. Instead there is just screaming about the evil racist crackers in Mississippi. In Africa people don’t care about the crackers in Mississippi. They care about the liberals in the White House and Congress and their racist policies like having the IMF and World Bank cut the standard of living in Ghana by 20%.

                • Malaclypse

                  That means the defacto racist policies of liberals and liberal institutions have to change.

                  Examples please. Which racist policies do liberals support? Please to be not discussing people dead for decades.

                • Well for a start the World Bank and IMF (the premier neo-liberal institutions) could stop forcing policies that make people in Africa poorer. A couple weeks ago they arbitrarily raised prices on everything in Ghana by 20%. So everybody lost a fifth of their purchasing power. They don’t do that to white countries in Europe and when there is even a hint of austerity for rich white countries like Greece left wing racists at places like Crooked Timber go crazy. But, when it is done to Ghana there is not a single word from any liberal or leftist blogs. They simply do not consider Africans to be humans like they do the rich white Greeks.

                  For another the liberal Obama administration could stop supporting French neo-colonialism in places like Mali and Togo. The US no longer supports any dictatorships in Europe. So why does Obama support them in places like Togo? Are the Togolese not as deserving of freedom as white Europeans? Also an issue in which there is complete silence from liberal and leftist blogs. They simply do not care about the people of Togo and the fact that there is an active struggle against a dynastic dictatorship in that country.

                  The US could also end its unconditional support for Israeli apartheid and colonialism. This has long been the defining issue for American liberals and it is definitely a policy of supporting blatant racism by a state every bit as racist as apartheid South Africa was. Yet all of the liberal presidents since the ultra liberal Johnson and all the liberal congress people like Boxer and Schumer support racial oppression of the Palestinians. Indeed the more liberal a politician the more pro-Israeli has tended to be.

                  I could go on, but you get the point. There is one standard for white countries and another for Africa and other non-white countries like Palestine. I don’t expect these racist liberal policies to change. But, you should at least stop denying their existence.

                • Malaclypse

                  Well for a start the World Bank and IMF (the premier neo-liberal institutions) could stop forcing policies that make people in Africa poorer.

                  Please to be citing liberal economists in the US that support IMF and World Bank policies.

                • Malaclypse

                  And also, the IMF is fucking up Greece pretty well also, and I don’t recall Greece being African. They’ll fuck over anywhere non-core, regardless of color.

                • The kind of policies that J. Otto talks about that the IMF and the World Bank engage in are neoliberal policies, and of course, neoliberalism and liberalism are like chalk and cheese.

    • You know, Data, the party members in The Invisible Man aren’t actually supposed to be role models.

      • Hogan

        ITYM Invisible Man, not The Invisible Man.)

  • DR

    I admit I’m rather late to the VRA party here, but I think you’re being terribly unfair to Justice Scalia. Rather than thinking of it in terms of “perpetuation of racial entitlements” or similar unfortunate phraseology, I prefer to think of all the vexing jurisprudential problems we can now put behind us. If I may quote what I see as the “money line” from his queries at oral argument:

    “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.”

    Without even realizing it, Justice Scalia has finally captured that elusive judicially-manageable standard for deciding political gerrymander claims: “Whenever a society adopts politically gerrymandered voting districts, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.” Clearly, this is a problem that can’t be left to the legislatures to resolve. Now, what should we call this? The “Can’t Trust It To Politics” standard, perhaps?

    And that problem of inherent Executive authority? Gone! “Whenever the Executive claims powers to kill citizens extrajudicially, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political process.” Once again, we can’t count on Congress to fix this problem. I’m sure Justice Scalia will be along momentarily to clean up this mess.

    No, this is no mere right-wing hackery. This is truly revolutionary. I’m thinking that, to honor Justice Scalia, we should call it “Faint-Hearted FN 4.”

  • Yariv

    Roberts’ grasp of statistics is certainly better than the NPR reporter’s whose piece you link to. At 39 +/- 11 per cent turnout in Massachusetts compared with 49 +/- 5 per cent in Mississippi, it’s about 90% likely that turnout is higher in Mississippi. As Mitt Romney has learned, “within the margin of error” does not mean “tossup”.

  • cpinva

    i have a question, probably better posed to campos.

    in my line of work (auditing), it is required, before a client is taken on, that i (and those working under me) have at least a minimum knowledge of the standards & practices (for accounting purposes) of the industry. i.e.: what inventory methods are commonly used; what depreciation methods are commonly used; how revenues and expenses are generally recognized, etc. this is one aspect of Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS). failure to meet this standard can have serious, adverse repercussions, up to and including a malpractice suit/loss of license.

    my question is this: does the legal profession have a similar requirement? that you must have some minimal knowledge of the issue at hand, prior to accepting an engagement? as well, does a judge (at the appellate level) have a similar responsibility, to have or acquire a minimal knowledge of the issue at hand, prior to opining on said issue?

    i ask, because it appears that chief justice roberts, and associate justice scalia have only a passing glance, at the document they are charged with interpreting, the current US Constitution. as such, they would seem to be guilty of malpractice, for their apparent studied ignorance, and confusing the constitution, with the articles of confederation.

    but, that’s just my impression.

  • Rogers

    I actually wellcome the impending elimination of section 5. One more chunk of the mask discarded.Did anyone else notice that (Umpire)Roberts silly bit of stage business with the anomalous statistical comparison between Mass./Mississippi voting figures is at the identically jejuene level of argumentation displayed whenever a warming denier puts forth the local cold snap as an implied refutation of the mountain of robust data concerning global warming? “Intellectual my arse- these clowns don’t even PRETEND to argue in good faith.

  • Data Tutashkhia

    As far as this voting issue: it seems a bit (or more than a bit) over-dramatized. People died for the right to vote. And now it’s all about what? the roads, the IDs?

    Tell you what. If you put forward a really popular program, people (black and white) come. They will get their IDs, they will take a day off, take a taxi, wait for hours, and they will vote for you.

    The problem is: you don’t have much to offer, do you? Just the usual lukewarm Democratic party crap. So, all this outrage amounts to attempt to get a few more Democratic votes, votes of people who don’t care for the Democratic party enough to spend an hour waiting in line.

    Well, count me underwhelmed.

    • Shorter Data Tutaskhia: Until the Democratic Party runs an Avakian/Mumia ticket, disenfranchisement is fine with me. Also, the fact that it’s harder to vote in the United States than in any other liberal democracy certainly can’t have any effect on political outcomes.

      • Data Tutashkhia

        But disenfranchisement has already happened: the winner-takes-all, two-party system; both parties controlled by the business elite.

        True, there is still a competition of who will serve the establishment in each cycle: the sane billionaires’ party or the the insane billionaires’ party, but it’s hard to get excited about this competition. For that matter, they could cancel the elections altogether, and that probably wouldn’t have changed much…

        • Liam

          So you’re concerned with that but not at all concerned that individuals with the right to vote are not actually allowed to cast a vote in many circumstances as a deliberate electoral strategy by one of the parties in question meant to deprive the other party of voters? Me personally, I always felt that two parties is slightly less disenfrachising than one.

          • Data Tutashkhia

            I always felt that two parties is slightly less disenfrachising than one.

            That’s one way to look at it. Another way is that disenfranchising about the same, it’s just a more clever way.

            • Malaclypse

              it’s just a more clever way

              David St. Hubbins: It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh…
              Nigel Tufnel: Clever.
              David St. Hubbins: Yeah, and clever.

          • Hogan

            See, those people’s desire to vote is the product of false consciousness. Once they grasp the dialectic, they won’t care about voting any more.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Shorter Data Tutashkhia: Until we can do away with needing majority coalitions to pass legislation, dictatorship and democracy are precisely the same.

              • Data Tutashkhia

                What the heck does that even mean? What coalitions, what legislation? I don’t recognize this as close to anything I said.

                See, the Soviet Union had elections too. I participated once, I was 16. There was one candidate on the ballot, from the Unbreakable Bloc of Communists and Unaffiliated, as they called it. The photograph and CV of that person was posted on a wall. I could vote for or against the person. They told me that voting was my civic duty.

                So, I was 16, still joking, ain’t time yet for the choking, as they say. I went there and I voted against. Done my duty, yes Sir.

                But you’re not 16. Smarten up, man. Take up a hobby, or something.

                • A remarkable prescription from a determined troll.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yea, the choice between Mittens and Obama was exactly like that, except, of course, with the intimidation provided by New Black Panthers. Excellent point.

                • Data Tutashkhia

                  See, nothing is exactly like something else. No, not exactly, but close enough.

                • Malaclypse

                  Obviously close enough. The comparison is eerie in its exactitude. Only a fool or a frenchman would deny it.

      • Manju

        Shorter Data Tutaskhia: Until the Democratic Party runs an Avakian/Mumia ticket, disenfranchisement is fine with me.


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