Jeffrey Toobin, a Staff Writer at The New Yorker since 1993 and the Senior Legal Analyst for CNN since 2002, wrote this Article in the Print Edition of the November 26th, 2018, Issue, with the headline “Winning Votes.”
One of the unsung Heroes of the Civil-Rights Legislation of the Nineteen-Sixties is a Republican Congressman from Ohio named Bill McCulloch. Representing a nearly All-White District North of Dayton, McCulloch reflected the Values of what was then still justifiably called the Party of Lincoln. McCulloch preferred the term “Equal Rights” to “Civil Rights” because, as he put it, “the Constitution doesn’t say that whites alone shall have our most basic rights, but that we all shall have them.” In that spirit, and in Partnership with Senator Everett Dirksen, of Illinois, a fellow-Republican, McCulloch did as much as anyone, apart from President Lyndon Johnson and those involved in the Movement itself, to create and Pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As Todd Purdum notes in his book “An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” when McCulloch announced his Retirement, in 1971, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sent him a Handwritten Note, saying, “I know that you, more than anyone, were responsible for the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.”
This year’s Midterm Campaigns demonstrated just how thoroughly the Republican Party, under the Leadership of President Trump, has Repudiated this Heritage. As usual, Trump himself set the tone, by tweeting, shortly before Election Day, “Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law.” It’s easy to Trace the Lineage of this threat to the Jim Crow Era, when African-Americans were threatened with Arrest and worse if they tried to Register to Vote. Many persisted in doing so anyway. Today, the methods employed may be less Harsh, but the Goal remains the same, to Prevent certain Americans from Exercising their Rights.
The Voting Rights Act was Designed to Redress Intimidation and Discrimination, but since the Supreme Court effectively Neutered the Law, in the 2013 Case of Shelby County v. Holder, Republicans have Embraced Voter Suppression with enthusiasm. In nearly every State where the GOP has Controlled the Governorship and the Legislature, it has tried to Limit Access to Voting, most onerously by Establishing many Unnecessary Requirements.
The Effect of the Shelby County Decision is that the Jurisdictions identified by the Coverage Formula in Section 4(b) No Longer need to seek Preclearance for New Voting Changes, unless they are Covered by a Separate Ccourt Order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. However, Federal Law continues to Protect Citizens from Discrimination in Voting and from other Voting Rights Violations. As the Supreme Court's Decision described, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which Prohibits Discrimination in Voting based on Race or Language Minority Status, and which Applies on a Permanent Nationwide Basis, is Unaffected by the Decision. Likewise, other Provisions of the Voting Rights Act that Prohibit Discrimination in Voting remain in Full Force and Effect, as do other Federal Laws that Protect Voting Rights, including the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act.
For me, the Loss of Preclearence was very important. I have written many Blog Post about my Solution to take it out of the Hands of Congress and to make it part of the Census Process.
1. After the Census, all States are put on Preclearance.
2. The States then submit their last 10 years of Voting Records.
3. The Voting Rights Division will determine which States are Removed and the States that Stay on Preclearance.
4. After this Process, the State New Redistricting Maps are Drawn.
5. After Five years, Preclearance States can Reapply to be Removed with the last Five years of Voting Records.
To make this work, Congress will have to Define a New Coverage Formula.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker