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.
President Barack Obama explains the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. They ruled that the individual mandate was no more than a tax.
Although the Court had four questions before it, the focus of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the so-called individual mandate – the requirement that almost all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. Defending the constitutionality of the mandate, the government’s primary argument was that Congress can require everyone to buy health insurance using its power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, because the failure to buy insurance shifts the costs of health care for the uninsured to health care providers, insurance companies, and everyone who does have health insurance. Five Justices – the Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – all rejected that argument. But the government still won, because a different set of five Justices – the Chief Justice, and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan – agreed that the mandate was constitutional, but for a different reason. Continue reading Obama on the Affordable Care Act→
So, the cornerstone of Obama’s first three years in office is the Affordability Care Act. It now looks as if the whole thing may go up in flames. Of course, reading the Supreme Court is like trying to read tea leaves in the middle of a windstorm. We really don’t know how many of the justices are going to vote. It looks as if it comes down to Justice Kennedy, who has been the swing vote since Alito was nominated by President Bush. By many accounts, the Solicitor General had a really bad day. So, my question is whether he is, after all, the best guy to argue the case. Don’t we need to have somebody. or should we have somebody. who doesn’t have bad days? Shouldn’t we have had some superstar?
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. should be grateful to the Supreme Court for refusing to allow cameras in the courtroom, because his defense of Obamacare on Tuesday may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.
Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s—and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy.
This is just bizarre. Verrilli is an experienced guy. He’s been involved in loads of Supreme Court cases and has personally argued more than a dozen. So what on earth happened? So far, I haven’t seen anyone even take a stab at trying to figure it out. How could Verrilli possibly be unprepared for the questions he got, given that the conservative arguments against Obamacare have been extremely public and obvious for well over a year? Everyone in the world knew what to expect. Everyone except Verrilli, apparently.
This is just mind boggling.
Finally, I can’t stand liberals who can’t defend liberalism. It makes me want to vomit. Liberalism is all about giving people opportunities to get ahead. It you fumble those opportunities, then you fail. Whether it is a public school system which gives inner-city kids (blacks and whites… everybody) an opportunity at a better life or universal healthcare, which covers everybody. It is highly frustrating that this guy couldn’t articulate that.