Monday, August 10, 2015

215.4 - The Voting Rights Act hits 50

The Voting Rights Act hits 50

We have another anniversary to note, another 50th anniversary. That must have been one hell of a week in 1965.

This anniversary is of a law that in its own way had as much of an impact on our society as Medicare did. It was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law on August 6 of that year. It has been amended and expanded several times in the years since and has enabled untold numbers of minority citizens, mostly but not entirely in the South, to be able to register and to vote, many for the first time. It has been called the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress.

That is, it was until 2013, when the Supreme Court, declaring in essence that when it comes to voting, racism just doesn't exist anymore, gutted enforcement of central provisions of the Act.

Since then, there have been repeated attempts to undo the damage done by the Court's reactionary majority, every one of which has been stymied because too many in and out of Congress benefit by having the franchise limited and voter suppression enabled.

This year, proponents hope to use the occasion of the anniversary to increase the pressure to repair the harm done by the Court and there are events around the country surrounding the anniversary date. I have no faith that the right wing will be moved by any of this; they are as impervious to moral arguments as they are to logical ones.

Then again, I could be wrong. I have been before. Let's hope I am again.

And Happy 50th Birthday to the Voting Rights Act.

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