Folks, life has beat the crap out of me lately and I had largely disappeared off the ‘net due to mental overload and loss of the ability to give a fuck. Luckily, I regained my feet just in time to meet the tidal wave of SCOTUS related news which is this week in activism. I’ll try to resume regular posting next week. Usually I try to take a couple of days and several revisions before putting up a post like this, but right now timing and topical counts. Apologies for any typos or errors.
It has been an amazing and horrid week in SCOTUSLand. Rarely do simultaneously want to jump for joy and break down weeping. Lady Justice, where the hell were you Tuesday? Certainly not in chambers.
Alright, anyone who isn’t living under a rock has heard about the so-called ‘big news’ of the week. The Supreme Court has struck down part of DOMA (After DOMA Fact Sheet) and dismissed the case on Proposition 8, both of which are major wins for LGBT rights. Personally I wonder just how much bile Scalia had to swallow in siding with the majority on Prop8 (here’s some legalese on why the Prop8 decision isn’t actually about SSM – I am not endorsing this guys conclusions, per se, but he has his facts in order).
The sadly-less heralded news came on Tuesday. NAACP, wake up and remember that you are not irrelevant! The media blitz from the overturning of the Voters’ Rights Act should have rivaled the celebrations today, instead SCOTUSLand’s butching of voter rights has passed relatively quietly.
For anyone who has not been following the VRA case, here’s the gist:
Last year, Texas tried to redraw their voting districts in such a way as to deliberately hurt PoC. This redrawing was done by white members of the Texas legislature in secret from their black and latino colleagues. Basically, here’s what happened: the white guys looked at the voting districts and said “This district is a majority PoC, which means they won’t vote the way we want them too, so we’re going to change the borders of the district to remove some PoC and add some white folks, this way the PoC won’t have a majority any more. This other district has a majority white folks, we’ll leave that alone.”
Well, understandably PoC and their allies weren’t to happy about this. They challenged the redistricting under the voter’s rights act, which among other things, said that states with a history of severe and institutional racism and voter manipulation had to run changes in voting laws past the Federal government to insure that any changes they made weren’t going to infringe the voting rights of PoC.
The Feds took a look at Texas’ new-and-improved voting districts and said, “What are trying to pull here? This is blatant racism and you aren’t allowed to pull that crap!” And the old districts stayed. But Texas didn’t like being told what to do (who does?) and sued the Feds for the right to set any voting laws they want, no matter who got hurt.
Yesterday, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Texas, and less than two hours after the ruling was handed down, Texas Attorney General said the redistricting and associated voter ID law might go into effect immediately.
And the reason SCOTUS tossed out the VRA? Because everyone has the right to vote now, and racism is gone in America, so it wasn’t needed any more.
As Justice Ginsburg says in the dissent: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
For fairly obvious reasons, white LGBT folks are a bit happier with SCOTUS today than straight PoC. For LGBT people of color, well sadly the DOMA and Prop8 don’t apply if you live in any of the states that were covered by the VRA, because none of those states have marriage equality, so you can’t get married and they can now fuck with your voting rights. Yay for the puff pastry of oppressions.
Yeah, I’m snarky today. It’s keeping me somewhat sane in the face of this insanity.
In a somewhat related note (very related to intersectionality, somewhat related to SCOTUSLand), last night Texas Senator Wendy Davis pulled a marathon filibuster* that prevented the passage of a bill which would have shut down 80% of abortion clinics in Texas and outlaw abortion after 20 weeks (SB5 Primer) Wendy Davis is one of the Texas senators whose district would have been redrawn before the November elections, meaning she likely wouldn’t have been elected and standing on the Texas Senate floor to pull off her feat of awesome if that redistricting had gone through.
*One source claimed she spent most of the 10+ hour filibuster reading the stories of women whose lives would be negatively impacted by the bill. Sorry I lost the link for that one.