At the Wildhunt blog Crystal Blanton writes that:
On June 25th, 2013, the Supreme Court made a landmark, and unexpected, decision to dismantle Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that was signed into law on August 6th, 1965. President Johnson signed the Voters Rights Act into law in the presence of prominent civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks; it was a historic moment for the civil rights movement and for the movement of equality within this country.
Section 4 of the VRA identified those states and counties that would receive the oversight of Section 5, restricting any changes to qualifications or prerequisites for voters in their coverage area without the approval from the Federal Government. Why? Post Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws and racism in this country continued to become systematic, affecting African Americans’ access to their citizen-given voting rights. Common tactics employed to restrict categories of voters included everything from literacy tests, to voting poll taxes, to classic voter intimidation, to even death. Civil rights leaders fought to make sure that African Americans had the same access to their voting rights as others in this country.
Then, on June 25th, the Supreme Court removed this section of the VRA, citing it as unconstitutional, referencing that problems of racism or prejudice were no longer prevalent in today’s society. Within 48 hours of this ruling, numerous states that were restricted under Section 4 of the VRA moved to make changes to their voting requirements, redistricting and other modifications that would have formally required approvals, some of which were already denied. It is important to note that the areas that were still covered under this section of the VRA were not previously able to prove 10 years of fair voting practices within their state or area, and other areas had already been removed from the VRA when they had petitioned and proven fair practices.
Lydia M. Crabtree wrote about the end of DOMA and the voter changes.
“As a Pagan the mixed messages of the Supreme Court this week has left my heart heavy and shaken my belief in the country and laws that I love and respect. With state’s rights the battle cry, this war is likely to be as emotionally scarring and traumatizing as the Civil War. This New Civil War is one that is utilizing cold war tactics to pit us against each other. Even as the courts proclaim we are equal in the law it is simultaneously saying individual states have the right to restrict and disenfranchise people based on their opinion, color, and sexual orientation. It has created a world where living in one state over another will mean different freedoms for different people. So many seem to be cheering around me without completely understanding the full weight of the coming fights ahead. The Supreme Court itself has tried to deflect responsibility to the state level only to guarantee that these fights will reappear before them. It isn’t just voting and marriage I worry about. It is the right to have a body without government imposed restrictions. It is the right to worship without fear of losing a job, house or state benefits. It is the right to have a congressional and state governing body that accurately reflects the opinions and will of the people regardless of how varied they are.
In this New Civil War it is crucial that we win the fight of exposing “state’s rights” as a euphemism for “power to the powerful” or “right to restrict individuals in the name of sovereign government.” The principle of our country was not that individual states have rights superseding the rights of individuals. The Declaration of Independence said “We the people…” have rights and no authority can willfully, maliciously and methodically destroy the rights of us, the people. Not England. Not the United States Government. Not an individual state or city.
These are real issues and it seems to me that now more than every minority persons should stand together. This is why being closeted in any minority matter is dangerous. If we are quiet, uneducated and unmoved by the trials and tribulations of other minorities then we are easily picked off.”
“To me this ruling is first about privilege, and through the lens of privilege SCOTUS’ VRA verdict breaks down the fabric of democracy. I feel as Pagans we lift up the right to self determination as a sacred rite, one where we hold our self accountable first. As Pagans we give privilege a name, and the actively choose to disengage, and break down the walls of oppression, destruction that living within privilege bring. The ruling has potentially taken that right (and rite) away from millions of US citizens.”