Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, created quite a few headlines yesterday.
Scalia attributed the repeated renewal of Section 5 to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” He said, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
That’s quite a statement, and when I heard it all I could think was that the Voting Rights Act was enacted to stop the perpetuation of racial entitlement – for whites.
It’s been a long time since a statement truly shocked me. I’ve been a bit numb to Republican insanity, but this statement was beyond offensive. Since when is voting an entitlement? (Isn’t it adorable how he used the Republican dog whistle?)
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who asked many questions in defense of the law, appeared taken aback by Scalia’s insinuation. In the final moments of oral argument, she asked Bert Rein, the lawyer for the challengers, if he agrees.
“Do you think think Section 5 was voted for because it was a racial entitlement?” she asked. When he ducked the question, she asked it again. He did not endorse Scalia’s sentiment.
I bet she was taken aback. Scalia’s comment was outrageous.
But that wasn’t the only bit of insanity to drip out of Scalia’s mouth. Check this out:
“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act,” Scalia said during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder. “They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful — the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
Whoa! Is he saying that Congress can’t decide this issue because they’ll be more concerned with their reelection? Why yes, yes he is.
“This is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress,” he said.
Looks like Scalia needs to study the Constitution:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
So what the hell is Scalia talking about? Has he decided to place himself above the Constitution?
I’ll let Josh Marshall close this post…
Speaking for myself, it’s hard for me to read the sort of stuff Justice Scalia says these days without seeing red. As he’s aged, he’s tossed aside any pretense or desire to hide the fact that he sees himself as what originalists and advocates of judicial restraint are supposed to be against: namely, an appointed super legislator, contemptuous of Congress and happy to impose his own beliefs by judicial fiat. Hearing him rail about “racial entitlement” sounds more like you’re listening to some sort of talk radio blowhard than a Supreme Court Justice.
Justice Scalia, our very own Rush Limbaugh… with power and a lifetime appointment.