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


Currently over 250 payments in no less than 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, comparable to 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 “large lie” that by some means the 2020 presidential election was by some means riddled with fraud and irregularities and that Donald Trump actually received the election and had it stolen from him.

To make sure, the “large lie” and the truth that African People 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 neglect, nonetheless, that whereas the massive lie might need supplied the impetus for this most up-to-date white supremacist laws geared toward repressing the Black vote, these racist assaults are largely enabled not by these extremists in white robes and hoods however reasonably 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 way in which 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 occasions reluctantly, renewed a number of occasions.  2006 witnessed probably 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 doable if not for Roberts and his gang of robed right-wing racists.

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

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

Former Lawyer Basic 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 Improvement 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 stage, Senator Susan Collins has insisted systemic racism shouldn’t be a problem in her house 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 downside.”  He claimed “the situations that initially justified these measures not characterize voting within the coated 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 truth been surpassing, on a share foundation, white voter turnout in 5 of the six states initially coated 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 choice.

In fact, Black mayors and excessive black voter turnout imply America shouldn’t be 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 constant to work to cease discriminatory adjustments is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm as a result of you aren’t getting moist.”

Properly, the umbrella is gone, and it looks like it’s raining fairly closely lately.

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

Furthermore, now we have 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 laws on voting is the province of Congress alone, stating that the proper 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 knowledgeable 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 establishment is simply superb.

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