Sounding like Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court which rendered the Dred Scott decision leading inexorably to the Civil War, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the 10th Amendment to the Constitution in the court’s decision to cut the heart out of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Last week, in spite of years of states trying to suppress the vote, disenfranchise people of color, our elders, and our young people, the Supreme Court used the 10th Amendment also known as states’ rights to effectively destroy the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act was enacted after years of struggle, beatings, arrests, lynchings, murders, and mass protests to make certain that states could no longer use poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation to prevent people of color from voting.
The struggle for the right to vote for African-Americans took 90 years from the end of Reconstruction to 1965. In one decision, this anti-democratic, anti-American, anti-Black, anti-worker, anti-middle class, pro-oligarch Supreme Court embraced the notorious states rights doctrine to say all that struggle and pain and death – John Lewis’ beating at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Viola Liuzzo’s murder on Route 80, James Meredith’s death by a back-shooting from the Klan at his house, the lynching of Mississippi Freedom Summer organizers Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, and the tens of thousands of indignities suffered by African-Americans no longer matter. And so Voting Rights is gone in America.
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