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Justice Roberts: why you don’t need a spam filter, and other deep thoughts

Justice Roberts reflects on racism and the voting rights act

Chief Justice Roberts displayed incredible logic in his decision striking down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. It’s so brilliant, we just wanted to pointed out some of the other ways that the same logic could be applied.

First, the court’s decision, written by Roberts, can be seen in full; however, the gist of the argument is this:

Section 4 of the act identified just a few states and counties required to pre-clear their changes to voting procedures, in order to ensure that they did not disenfranchise minority voters. The areas identified were those where Congress found “evidence of actual voting discrimination,” and the covered jurisdictions shared two characteristics: “the use of tests and devices for voter registration, and a voting rate in the 1964 presidential election at least 12 points below the national average.”

Quoting from Page 3 of the court document: “Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Largely because of the Voting Rights Act [emphasis added], voter turnout and registration rates in covered jurisdictions now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”

Roberts, backed by a majority of the court, concludes that because the conditions that lead to the act are no longer true, the act is no longer needed.

Impeccable logic!

There is a rumor that, during afternoon cocktail parties, Roberts was also willing to go on and give advice on other topics. For example…

Email:

“I used to get tons of spam email. So, several years ago, I installed a spam filter. Ever since then, I haven’t received any spam emails! Obviously, because the conditions that lead to me installing the spam filter are no longer true, I don’t need that spam filter any more!”

Fitness:

“Several years ago, I realized I was a fat slob. So, I started eating right and exercising. I lost some weight, and now I feel much healthier. Obviously, because the conditions that lead to me exercising and eating right are no longer true, I don’t need to eat right or exercise any more!”

Sex and Romance:

“My wife used to complain that I was selfish and terrible in bed. So, grudgingly, I tried paying attention to her, instead of just on satisfying myself. Now, my wife is much happier! PROBLEM SOLVED! Obviously, since the problems and complaints that lead to me caring about my wife are no longer the case, well… I obviously don’t need to pay any attention to that nonsense anymore!”

 

Thank you for your great font of wisdom, Justice Roberts. Bravo.

 
5 Comments  comments 

5 Responses

  1. I’m not a fan of yesterday’s ruling, but the logic problem here is a tough one. On one hand, there’s the argument you make (via brilliant sarcasm) here. On the other hand, sometimes interventions are only temporary in nature. For example, you take a nasal decongestant when you have a cold, but when the cold is over, you don’t need it anymore. Our culture HAS changed a lot since the 60s. Racism is, sadly, still alive and well, but it’s not nearly as culturally acceptable now as it was then. Hopefully we will have some organizations watching these problem districts very carefully, and if the voter discrimination issue rises again, we’ll know it was too soon to let go of section 5.

    • Personally, I’d be much more convinced that the underlying problem was not there if there had not been SO MANY cases in the last year alone where southern states proposed changes to their election law that was ACTUALLY FOUND TO BE UNACCEPTABLE, because they were found to have discriminatory motivation or effects.

      Laws like this should be allowed to atrophy after a certain time passes when the states in question show no ATTEMPTS at passing racist laws. That seems fine to me.

      But the argument here, instead, from Texas and other states seems to be this: “We tried passing racist laws, they were blocked, and that makes us mad, so we’re challenging the law!”

      The very way in which this challenge emerged seems to imply that it’s needed.

  2. mark

    If there were SO MANY cases recently, Congress should have relied on those recent cases when they extended the law instead of old cases from the 1970s.

    If you want to keep it because “it worked” then just make the preclearance reaquirements applicable to all states instead of just a few.

    Congress has always said that preclearance would only be a temporary measure for these few states. So if you are going to consider whether to extend it longer, you should at least consider the current data. If you’re always going to rely on the data from the 60s and 70s, of course the data will never change. Then it is a permanent program, which was never intended.

    • I agree completely. And believe me, if I were somehow “in charge of the world” (LOL), then MY personal ruling on this matter would have been: Congress, this old formula is out of date, so you have six months to come up with a better formula, and if you do not come up with a better formula in that time then the pre-clearance will default to being applicable to ALL states.”

      But alas, we do not live in that fantasy world. 😉

      You argument makes sense, but it is also not relevant to the way Robert’s argument was worded. He literally said: Because minority voter turnout has improved since we instituted the law, therefore the law is no longer needed.

      THAT is the logic that is (I believe) mock-worthy.

      • Gary B

        Your world would be the right one. There should be a federal election law for any election that has a federal election within it. IOW, if someone is on the ballot for a federal election, the federal rules would apply. In all states.

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