Attacking 15th Amendment now, 19th later
“Because it puts us at a disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
Michael Carvin, Attorney for the State of Arizona, in the Supreme Court last Tuesday, answering Justice Barrett’s question as to why the Arizona RNC has an interest in keeping voter suppression laws on the books
The case in front of the Court is a 15th Amendment case. The 15th Amendments states that:
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.
Arizona is trying to enforce legislation that deliberately makes it more difficult for minorities to vote. If the legislation is blatant about this, it’s unconstitutional, but there are ways to make it less blatant, specifically by introducing a universally enforced condition that happens to affect one group adversely more than others. In Arizona’s case it has to do with addresses, a logistical problem on Native American reservations.
What’s important here isn’t the how, it’s the why. It’s the concept that voter disenfranchisement is OK to win elections, that the point of elections is not to put people in power who the majority of eligible voters vote for but to put one side in power. Power is being valued over democracy itself.
I’m sure if you asked a Republican in a Voter ID state – or most Gerrymandered states – why they were targeting Black people and they were to have the guts to answer you honestly, they’d say: “Because Black people tend to vote Democratic. Our problem with them is not that they’re Black, it’s that they tend to vote for our opponents. This isn’t racism, it’s partisanship.”
The principle here being exercised by Republicans is to disenfranchise populations that tend to vote against you. Statistically speaking, what’s the largest population that tends to vote Democratic?
If Republicans want to win elections, one of the most effective things they could do would be to reduce female voting. Don’t stop at the Fifteenth Amendment, go after the Nineteenth:
“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 sex.”
They will figure this out. When it comes to voter disenfranchisement, they figure most things out. And, as we’ve seen time and time again, most Republican legislators don’t have ethical limits.
For Republican women, I’ll quote Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
For everyone else, I’ll quote my colleague Ron Powell:
Don’t believe me? Just watch.
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