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?