Home News Opinion: Remembering John Roberts’ Function in Enabling White Supremacist Voter Repression

Opinion: Remembering John Roberts’ Function in Enabling White Supremacist Voter Repression


Currently over 250 payments in at the least 43 states are designed to limit voting rights.

Georgia’s current laws, clearly, has taken middle stage, spurring speedy protest and stress from teams in search of to guard and develop enfranchisement for thousands and thousands of voters, particularly Black voters. After the very fact, companies headquartered in Georgia, reminiscent of Delate Airways and Coca Cola, voiced opposition to the voter-suppression laws. Texas, it appears will garner the media highlight subsequent.

The prevailing knowledge is that this tsunami of voter-suppression laws has been motivated by the “massive lie” that by some means the 2020 presidential election was by some means riddled with fraud and irregularities and that Donald Trump actually gained the election and had it stolen from him.

To make certain, the “massive lie” and the truth that African Individuals in Georgia, particularly, turned out to vote in excessive numbers to elect Joe Biden president and Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff to the Senate have triggered this racist backlash in search of to disenfranchise these voters who made democracy work within the very face of the virulent white supremacy that has traditionally disarmed democracy in America.

Let’s not overlook, nevertheless, that whereas the large lie may need supplied the impetus for this most up-to-date white supremacist laws aimed toward repressing the Black vote, these racist assaults are largely enabled not by these extremists in white robes and hoods however quite by these extremists donning black robes, cloaked within the illusory dignity of the Supreme Courtroom of the US.

In 2013 within the Shelby County v. Holder case, the Supreme Courtroom, led on this cost by Chief Justice John Roberts, paved the best way for this wave of up to date efforts to limit voting rights by gutting key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which the Senate had ritualistically, if at instances reluctantly, renewed a number of instances.  2006 witnessed essentially the most in depth hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination on the polls, earlier than the Senate lastly renewed the act.

None of this laws in states like Georgia, Arizona, and Texas would even be attainable if not for Roberts and his gang of robed right-wing racists.

The key provision struck down, Part 5, was that which required sure “lined” jurisdictions to acquire preclearance from the U.S. Lawyer Normal earlier than implementing any adjustments that influence voting. “Coated” jurisdictions included these with a documented historical past of racial discrimination in voting.  To be truthful, the 2013 ruling didn’t altogether remove Part 5, for which Justice Clarence Thomas advocated, however quite declared that Congress’s dedication of which jurisdictions had been “lined” by preclearance rules needed to be achieved so utilizing up to date knowledge, because the act had been renewed repeatedly on the premise of information from 1975. For all intents and functions, although, this ruling was broadly understood to have successfully extinguished preclearance rules given the inevitable contentiousness in making these determinations in Congress.

Certainly, how usually can we hear key Republican leaders insist that systemic racism is solely not a actuality in at present’s America, even because the George Floyd homicide trial proceeds?

Former Lawyer Normal William Barr was chief among those voices denying systemic racism is an issue in America. Robert O’Brien, a nationwide safety advisor to Trump, in addition to Secretary of Housing and City Growth Ben Carson and financial advisor Larry Kudlow made related feedback within the wake of Floyd’s homicide by a police workplace final summer season.  On a extra native degree, Senator Susan Collins has insisted systemic racism isn’t a problem in her dwelling state of Maine.

Roberts’ opinion additionally relied on the sociological evaluation that racism merely wasn’t extreme sufficient in America to justify preclearance, calling it an “extraordinary” measure created to “tackle a rare drawback.”  He claimed “the circumstances that initially justified these measures now not characterize voting within the lined jurisdictions.”

One has to surprise what American actuality Roberts is analyzing.

Certainly, he primarily based his opinion partly on the truth that Black voter turnout had in reality been surpassing, on a share foundation, white voter turnout in 5 of the six states initially lined by the 1965 act. Moreover, cities traditionally well-known for racial violence and discrimination, Philadelphia, Mississippi and Selma, Alabama, had Black mayors when Roberts penned his determination.

In fact, Black mayors and excessive black voter turnout imply America isn’t racist!

Roberts’ facile and arguably bad-faith sociological evaluation was archly and famously countered by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote in her dissent:

“Throwing out preclearance when it has labored and is continuous to work to cease discriminatory adjustments is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm as a result of you aren’t getting moist.”

Effectively, the umbrella is gone, and it looks like it’s raining fairly closely nowadays.

And it was Roberts who threw away the umbrella and enabled these rain-making state legislatures to unleash their racist storms.

Furthermore, we’ve to be clear, the putatively serious-minded and sensible Roberts clearly overstepped his bounds on this case, abusing his energy as Chief Justice to meet his private and long-standing agenda of overturning the Voting Rights Act, which he had been doggedly pursuing since 1981, as Ian Millhiser chronicled in Vox article final September.

The Fifteenth Modification, Millhiser factors out, is kind of clear that overseeing rules on voting is the province of Congress alone, stating that the appropriate to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any state on account of race, colour, or earlier situation of servitude,” giving Congress the “energy to implement this text by applicable laws.”

However John Roberts by some means believed it was his position to usurp Congress’s authority and make this name. He determined, primarily based on what coaching and sociological analysis we don’t know, that racism merely wasn’t an issue in America anymore. 

His data of the legislation, I suppose, made him an skilled sociologist.


Let’s be clear, those that proceed to disclaim racism each in America’s historical past and current are participating in and fueling racism, insisting the white supremacist established order is simply high quality.

Effectively, to any unprejudiced eye, it must be clear the laborious rain is falling.