Yesterday, the Supreme Court revisited the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Speaking of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, during the proceedings  Antonin Scalia stated:

“I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

The courtroom spectators  audibly gasped after he spoke.  His words set off a firestorm among political activists, especially those older ones, like Rep. John Lewis who had been involved in the original fight for voting equality in the 1960’s.

Rep. John Lewis attacked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday,  calling comments he made during a Supreme Court argument on the Voting Rights  Act “an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for.”

Scalia, a member of the court’s conservative wing, was intensely skeptical of  the Act during Wednesday’s hearing, labeling its continued existence a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

“It was unreal, unbelievable, almost shocking, for a member of  the court to use certain language. I can see politicians and even members of  Congress — but it is just appalling to me,” Lewis said on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation.”

“It is an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for, what  people died for, what people bled for, and those of us who marched across that  bridge 48 years ago, we didn’t march for some racial entitlement,” he continued. “We wanted to open up the political process, and let all of the people come in,  and it didn’t matter whether they were black or white, Latino, Asian American or  Native American.”

John Lewis was beaten to a bloody pulp, along with 17 others, crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama during a  march for voting rights.  He said that great strides have been made but there is still a ways to go.


Is Antonin Scalia wrong?  Is he out of order speaking as an activist judge from the bench?  Do we still need the Voting Rights Act in 2013?  Are the long lines causing hours of waiting to vote symptomatic of voting irregularities?


18 Thoughts to “Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement?”

  1. Rick Bentley

    John Lewis is a nitwit. He’s always going to be “affronted” by something or other. It’s who he is and what he does. In a real sense, he profiteers off the civil rights movement of the 60’s.

    We have freedom of speech and freedom of ideas in this country. And it is a very real issue in the minds of many Americans whether the remedies for racial prejudice are in and of themselves immoral or counterproductive. If Lewis is incapable of discussion of something so fundamental, he should probably resign from office and go crawl under a rock, with all due respect.

    1. No one is trying to deny Scalia free speech. That’s hardly the point. Should he have said it in that setting? His own living room at a cocktail party would be another matter.

      I don’t ever ever ever want to hear about activist judges on the left again, after that remark. I will immediately throw back Scalia as an activist right wing judge, because he is. Why the hate for John Lewis? He is living history.

  2. punchak

    If Scalia has the right to free speech, so does John Lewis!
    And, do read about this case in today’s WashPost. Fortunately,
    there are a couple of women on the Supreme Court who aren’t afraid of Scalia’s
    scorching remarks.

  3. Starry flights

    Scalia should be impeached. He is clearly not impartial and is not fit to serve on the bench

  4. @Starry flights
    You go, STarry! The voice of reason and impartiality!

  5. Rick Bentley

    “Should he have said it in that setting?”

    Yes! I’m not saying I agree with him entirely. One man’s racial entitlement is another man’s justice; it’s not an objective matter. But yes, that’s certainly the appropriate forum.

    If it upsets Lewis’ selective and biased world view, then there’s value in it.

  6. Rick Bentley

    I agree that Scalia is an activist – big time. Not impartial at all. And trying to move America in a direction. But I respect that he says out loud what he thinks.

    They’re a fairly biased lot. The institution has become a joke. But I will say nice things about two of them.

    Sotomayor seems like a woman of integrity who respects the court beyond politics. An honorable woman. She tends to recuse herself when appropriate – which I can’t imagine the others doing. Scalia or Ginsburg would presumably never recuse themselves under any circumstance – they use their court position to advance their personal ideology.

    And Roberts seems like a good leader, who cares about the court.

    Certainly there’s nowhere to go but up. The Supreme Court hit a nadir with that 2000 Bush-Gore decision, when all the Rpublicans voted against states’ rights, and the Republicans beat the Democrats 5-4.

  7. Rick Bentley

    I can guarantee you that if Gore had lead Bush in the Year 2000 voting, with a Democratic Sec of State in Florida, and the Florida Supreme Court was ordering a recount before allowing certification of the vote :

    All 5 “Republican” justices would have been arguing vociferously that the state’s right to count its own votes, and to resolve its own contradictory voting laws, should not be infinged on without reasonable cause – that states do have rights.

    And all 4 “Democrat” judges would have been screaming that a recount would violate some kind of abstract civil right that they were inventing for the purpose of this particular arguement.

    The fact that there was no intellectual integrity within the court at this point in history is a sad matter. Certainly it cured me of my existing delusion that the court is an honorable institution.

  8. I am not sure I understand Scalia’s words “Perpetuation of Racial Entitlement.”

    Is he overlooking the fact that blacks have had the right to vote since 1865 and until very recently, really weren’t allowed to vote? The Voting Rights Act was sort of the teeth behind the amendment; the enforcer.

    I can remember when I was little, before I could vote myself, hearing my parents talking about the poll tax. I remember this because i thought they were saying “pole cat” and I couldnt figure out why anyone would want to pay a skunk.

  9. Second Alamo

    Perhaps he’s referring to the fact that inequality, even when in certain cases it has been reduced to a perception and not reality, will endure in some peoples minds forever. This mindset is then passed down through generation after generation. This will all end when people stop telling their children there is no hope for them before they even get the chance to experience life on their own.

    1. John Lewis was born in 1940. I can tell you for a fact that he has experienced inequality. It certainly wasn’t a perception.

      I think John Lewis very much believes in hope. He fought and grappled for his equality. He made it happen. Mindset? He grew up as the son of a sharecropper in the jim Crow south, alabama. How much more real does it have to get.

      I would say some of the biggest problems come from the fact that young blacks don’t realize what some of their elders endured and how things really were, rather than someone telling them their is no hope.

      The same can be said of young women. They don’t realize how things were.

  10. Rick Bentley

    Whatever he means, it is particularly important to me that he be allowed to express it and that we all be allowed to think outside the prism of political correctness. And that John Lewis and other liberal fascists shouldn’t bother to demonstrate outrage when someone thinks differently than they do. That said, Scalia is kind of a “troll” as Rachel Maddow says, just calling attention to himself. And doesn’t seem to have made any type of coherent point.

    1. Yes, he is a troll. I agree with you and Maddow.

      You know, I don’t think John Lewis is a liberal fascist at all. I think when someone beats you up, tramples you on a horse, gives you a concussion, it probably does something to that person. Lewis is old enough to know what growing up in Alabama was like, first hand.

      I am somewhat younger than Lewis but I remember what it was like in Georgia and Virginia. My version was considerably sanitized compared to what Lewis saw. I never saw any violence towards blacks, but I know about colored bathrooms and drinking fountains and that blacks had to go to the back of the bus. I saw that. I know that the poll tax was used to keep blacks from voting. Those things are part of my collective memory.

      Why wouldn’t those experiences alone have shaped John Lewis? Throw in some personal violence directed towards him specifically, and I expect those were life altering experiences. I don’t think that he wants anything that you don’t simply take for granted as a white male.

      Notice I didn’t include myself. I don’t see myself as having had the same opportunities as white males my age had. Start with the fact that I couldn’t attend some state supported colleges in Virginia because of my gender.

  11. George S. Harris

    The rivercalls the ocean water.

  12. George S. Harris

    It is pretty obvious that Rick Bentley and Cargo are not people of color or they would sing a different song. Supposedly when Arthur Ashe, the great tennis star, was dying of AIDS, someone ask him if this was the worst thing that ever happened to him. Ashe replied, “No, the worst thing that ever happened to me was being born black.” True or not, I don’t know but it sure does make a point that if you have too much melanin in your skin, you are at a disadvantage. Do we still need the Voting Right Act? You bet your sweet butt we do.

  13. Censored bybvbl

    The lines at polling places in PWC that primarily served minorities and the effort made in many (mainly Republican-led) legislatures across the country to make voting more difficult shows that we haven’t gotten to the point yet where the Voting Rights Act is unneeded.

  14. @George S. Harris
    I’ve never claimed to be impartial, but Starry’s comment was just silly.

    I also don’t believe I’ve said anything one way or another about this subject other than to poke fun at Starry. So….. no..I’m not a “person of color” but I also did not give an opinion on the subject. You have no idea what I’m thinking about it.

  15. Rick Bentley

    “It is pretty obvious that Rick Bentley and Cargo are not people of color or they would sing a different song.”

    Inevitably? Do Thomas Sewell or Clarence Thomas sing the same song?

    Regarding Arthur Ashe’s comment, that’s a self hating remark and an odd one, regardless of what he was trying to express. Inherently more offensive that anything I remember Scalia saying.

    The more i am exposed to the full context of this, I think that Scalia was a bit out there and don’t especially agree with whatever he was getting at – but strongly defend his right to say unpopular things, and strongly resent people like Joihn Lewis. Who thinks he can tell people what trains of thouigh are or aren’t allowed, or for that matter whether an entire political movement should be tarred as “racist”. The guy’s a complete twit IMO; his attention whoring a few years ago about SUPPOSEDLY hearing a racial slur is the opposite of leadership.

    IMO, being black sometimes puts an individual at a disadvantage, and sometimes at an advantage. That’s the truth of the matter. In my white collar career I’ve seen a lot more sexism that racism … ask a black female which one affects her more and I’d bet she’ll say sex more often than race. Whether I’m being naive and sheltered, or not, the dialogue is worth having – and no one needs John lewis to come in and moderate it.

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