SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts’ 2013 Voting Rights Decision

In an article that I wrote and posted to this website on August 5, 2015 entitled Chief Justice John Roberts’ Voting Rights Decision, I said that United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to gut the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was either a gut wrenching decision for him or a time for him to celebrate: I said that only Chief Justice Roberts knew the true answer to this question.  Well, now we all know that answer: Based on the ruling that the Court made along ideological lines on the last day of rulings for 2021, it was not a gut wrenching decision.  It was a time of celebration.  Chief Justice Roberts sided with the other Republican Justices in further gutting the VRA.

Following are the first four paragraphs of the previously mentioned 2015 article.  I believe that they will be beneficial in helping my readers to realize and accept the fact that the Supreme Court is not an A-political branch of government, as it has long been esteemed to be, but that it is just as political as are the parties in the legislative branch of government:

Chief Justice John Roberts’ Voting Rights Decision

When U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made his decision in June 2013 to declare Section 4 (b) of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional it was either a gut wrenching decision or a time for him to celebrate having finally achieved a goal that he had been chasing ever since he graduated from Harvard.  By siding with those who were in favor of declaring Section 4 (b) unconstitutional, in a 5-4 decision – quite reminiscent of the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 that made Bush 43 President of the United States of America; he rendered the Voting Rights Act virtually powerless.

Was his decision to all but destroy this piece of legislation that the U.S. Department of Justice “considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country” a gut wrenching decision?  Was it something that kept him awake at night as he contemplated the devastating impact that it would have on all of those who would be hurt by it if his decision was wrong or was it something that was more closely related to what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg suggested this Voting Rights decision was in her dissent statement?

According to the New York Times, in her dissent statement Justice Ginsberg, in referring to a case in Alabama that disparaged black people said; “These conversations occurred not in the 1870s or even the 1960s – they took place in 2010.  ” ‘Hubris’ is a fit word for today’s demolition of the [Voting Rights Act] V.R.A.”  No one really knows whether it was a gut wrenching decision or a time of celebration for Chief Justice Roberts except Chief Justice Roberts.  Why don’t you read ‘A Dream Undone then decide for yourself which of the two you think that it was?

Even if ultimately it turns out that his decision is more closely associated with the statement that Justice Ginsberg made in her dissent statement than it does to having been a gut wrenching decision, that does not make Chief Justice Roberts a terrible person.  It simply means that politics and politicians impact upon all of us including U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

This 2021 Supreme Court ruling has been touted and praised by the Arizona Attorney General, the Chairperson of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Republican Party in general.  Because the Republican Party has increasingly become a Party that is reliant on white voters and is already replete with them – in particular old white men, and refuse to spend the time and energy to create a bigger tent, they fear the changing demographics in America and so have come to know and accept that cheating is the only way that they can win.  So they cheat.  And they do it brazenly and without shame.

It is hard and it hurts deeply to watch the people that we elected to office and put our full faith and trust in to protect our democracy and us against all enemies foreign and domestic whither under the pressure of those enemies.  It especially hurts to see those officials who swore an oath to protect this country and us become subservient and kneel and kiss the ring of a former ‘Occupier of the Oval Office’ just to keep their job; a job that they know that they are not doing when they acquiesce to his ludicrous demands.  What is worse is that they know that this man is a liar, cheat and a conman who was unqualified and unfit for the office that he held and is not worthy of their support or that of the American people.  We know this because they themselves have labeled him with these negative terms and more!

It is freighting to witness the failed coup that occurred on January 6, 2021 and then watch an entire Republican Party with the exception of one or two Republicans block an investigation of that event and attempt to sweep it under the rug and move on!  Not only that but they cling to the former ‘Occupier of the Oval Office’ who allegedly incited the insurrection, proclaim him their leader and support and promulgate his claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him!  To be clear, although those two Republicans – Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Liz Cheney – took the position that they did, it does not warrant labeling them as heroes and showering them with adulation.  It’s their job to stand up for democracy and the American people.  Democrats and Republicans can have their differences on policies and how America should move forward as a democracy but there can be no differences when it comes to whether or not America should remain a democracy!  And if either Party says that America should not be a democracy, all Americans must stand on the side that says she will remain a democracy!

In light of what the Republican Party is so openly doing to destroy the American democracy, where are the voices of the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back against this existential threat to it?!  With the Republican Party fighting with every tool in their arsenal regardless of the fact that they know that what they are doing is based on Donald Trump’s ‘big lie’ and America and the rest of the world are aware that this is the case, where is the urgency from the Democrats to at least blunt the Republicans steamroller type progress until they can stop it completely and save our democracy?!  Where are the voices of those generals like Jim Mattis and John Kelly who expressed concern about Mr. Trump’s leadership and about him referring to America’s generals as “My generals?!”

Finally, where is the unity in the Democratic Party under these dire and threatening circumstances?  Where is the voice of President Joe Biden?  Perhaps he is doing everything that he can possibly do to thwart congressional Republicans in Washington and around the country from achieving their nefarious plan to stay in power at all costs; even if it means making America an autocracy.  Perhaps he is planning strategically on how to deal with Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who – if one did not know who they were, could reasonably argue that they have an R following their names with the way that they are conducting themselves under these extremely challenging circumstances.  If these two senators want to stand with Republicans against democracy based on the flimsy excuse of preserving a senate rule that – if the situation were reversed and Republicans were in charge of a precarious fifty fifty seat senate they would change in a heartbeat to move their agenda forward, then perhaps when Senators Machin and Sinema run for reelection they should run as Republicans.   Hopefully the aforementioned strategic plan includes dealing with them now and – with the support of voters – when they come up for reelection.

It appears that for some reason unknown to most of us Democratic voters and Republican voters who understand the situation and value our democracy, the Biden administration is not taking this all-out assault on voting rights seriously enough.  The fact that Republicans are putting every roadblock to the right to vote in place that they can prior to the 2022 election and in the event that these old school voter suppression tactics don’t work, backing them up by passing laws that will strip powers from other officials elected by the American people who currently oversee elections so that they can overturn elections that they disagree with is frightening and has a chilling effect on democracy.  Democrats cannot afford to wait until the fall of 2022 to address this problem.  They may find that they have lost their majority and that it is too late.  Oops!  And with all of the laws and other obstacles that Republicans are putting in place, with that “oops”, Democrats might never be in the majority again!

As a result of the lack of urgency exhibited in this matter by the Biden administration civil rights organizations have met with the president and vice president and informed them that they will push forward with grassroots efforts to protect voting rights.  These groups are acutely aware that far too many people have bled, suffered and died for the right of the franchise for people of color and subsequently others who were purposely left behind by those in power, to allow it to be taken away by those who refuse to accept change: By those who refuse to respect the voice of the electorate but would continue to do what they want to do and, in order to ignore the electorate but continue to win elections, rather than change their ways, put forward policies that honor the wishes of the electorate and govern accordingly, opt to instead change the electorate.

Americans do not have to put up with this kind of governance.  We can make sure that the American government remains a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people.  But in order to do this we must remain engaged.  And for those of you who are not already engaged, you must get engaged now and remain engaged; our democracy depends on it.  So always remember, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!  Through your vote you can send a clear message to our elected leaders and all of those who dare to attack our democracy in an effort to undermine or destroy it that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line