U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is alleged to be one of the great intellects of conservative jurisprudence, but his comments during oral arguments over a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act displayed all the mental acuity of a third-tier talk radio bozo.The crux of the biscuit:
In court on Wednesday, however, Scalia mocked that vote. He said the Senate’s unanimity simply proved the law had not been given serious consideration. The senators were afraid, he said, to cast a vote against a law with a "wonderful" name. He went on to assert that the reauthorization of the act was merely "a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement."
That sort of legal reasoning may be good enough for someone sitting on a bar stool well into his third pint, but it is not good enough for the highest court in the land.
Tossing actual statistics back at Scalia, Justice Elena Kagan cited a string of continued voting-rights violations. As to the state of mind of the senators, she said the unanimous vote was pretty good proof that the evidence of contemporary abuses was convincing, even to conservative Southerners.
"It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation," Kagan said.
Undeterred, Scalia opined that a law governing voting rights is "not the kind of question you can leave to Congress." Oh, really? The right to vote is the core of our constitutional democracy. It is not, as Scalia says, "a racial entitlement," it is an American entitlement. It seems that might be a very useful thing for Congress to watch over and protect. It was eminently important in 1965 and remains important today.
Given the weirdness of his comments, it might not be wrong to assume Scalia's true concern is less about "racial entitlement" than it is about making sure his fellow Republicans are entitled. Entitled, that is, to manipulate elections when they can no longer win fair and square.Word.