By William Boardman, Reader Supported News, 03 March 13
Why does Justice Scalia hate the Constitution? And is he a troll?
15TH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
[Ratified February 3, 1870]
Section 1. 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.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Congress’s 2006 renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was the subject of 76 minutes of oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in February, although Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, 77, gave the impression that he thought the legislation was really called the Voting Entitlement Act.
Early in the hearing on a frequently non-compliant Alabama county’s appeal of the Voting Rights Act, Scalia tried leading Alabama’s counsel into agreeing to a specious conclusion by citing the 1965 Senate vote of 79-18 to pass the act, compared to the Senate’s 2006 unanimous 98-0 vote to renew the act.
“It must have been even clearer in 2006 that these States were violating the Constitution,” Scalia said. “Don’t you think that’s true?”
“No,” said the Alabama counsel, “I think the court has to …–”
Associate Justice Elena Kagan, 53, interrupted, tongue in cheek: “Well that sounds like a good argument to me, Justice Scalia. It was clear to 98 Senators, including every Senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.”
“Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against it,” Scalia answered, “that there’s nothing, that there’s no –… none of their interests in voting against it.”
Justices Avoid Discussing Psychic Powers
“I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, 75, as he changed the subject from Scalia’s speculation based, apparently, on retrospective, paranoid mindreading of those voting Senators in 2006.
But Scalia was back a few minutes later, this time trying to lead the government’s counsel, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli: “You could always say, oh, there has been improvement, but the only reason there has been improvement are these extraordinary procedures [the Voting Rights Act] that deny the States sovereign powers which the Constitution preserves to them. So, since the only reason it’s [voting non-discrimination] improved is because of these procedures, we must continue those procedures in perpetuity.”
Scalia: “Is that the argument you are making?”
Verrilli: “That is not the argument. We do not think that —-”
Scalia: “I thought that was the argument you were just making.”
Verrilli: “It is not….”
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., 58, jumped in here to state that Massachusetts “has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African American voter turnout,” but that the best ratio is in Mississippi. It wasn’t clear what point he was making.
Massachusetts Rebuts Roberts’s Slur
Roberts’s assertion was apparently false, according to Massachusetts secretary of state William Galvin, who commented on WBUR radio on March 1:
“I’m disturbed, first of all, that he is distorting information. You would expect better conduct from the chief justice of the United States. I’m a lawyer, he’s a lawyer, lawyers are not supposed to provide disinformation in the course of a case. It’s supposed to be based on truth….
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