Week 4: Analysis

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Provision – The New York Times – www.nytimes.com

The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States provides the federal government with sanctions against states that disenfranchise citizens based on race, however, it has not stopped states from trying other methods to take the vote away from black people and other people of color through various, more subtle methods, being highly successful in this until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided the federal government with the specific power to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, gave individuals the right to sue their local and state governments if their voting rights were denied, and which in specific problem districts, especially in the South, restricted the state’s ability to pass laws regarding voting without providing good proof that it was not done with discriminatory intent and that it would not have a discriminatory effect.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled the “coverage formula” less as unconstitutional and more as unnecessary. The Court’s argument hinged on the idea of a post-racial America. These measures were necessary in Jim Crow days, sure, but no longer. This decision was widely criticized and opened the door to many states creating new restrictions on voting, most notably requiring IDs, which minorities disproportionately have less access to. With this ruling and it’s reaction from the states, you can see that Jim Crow is alive and well.

However, the Federal Appeals Court struck down these laws in North Carolina for exactly the reason that the special provisions in the Voting Rights Act were made in the first place, that they ignored the continuing presence of racism in the state and that because of this history, that these laws were unconstitutional.

This election season has been nothing but a parade of loud reminders that we are not even close to a post-racial society. If anything, I had to wonder when the lectures were recorded, because while the ideals of equality are still given lip service by parts of the country, the ideals of exclusion are being trumpeted about much more loudly than they have in years. Maybe it made some sense in 2013 to rule our nation as a post-racial society, but here in 2016? Of course the appeals court understood that this was still a problem.

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