Melissa Harris-Perry | February 24, 2013
>>> well, wednesday marks the first voting right case the supreme court will hear. it's not the only one. they will hear arguments later in arizona versus intertribal council march 18th . it pertains to proof of citizenship requirement violates the voter registration act. that's not all. there's a potential third case that has yet to be scheduled. texas versus u.s. or some call it texas versus holder. it is whether the district ruled the plan violated section five of the voting act. joining my panel is barbara , president and executive director of lawyers. a group representing individuals in these cases.
>> good to see you.
>> it's a pleasure to be here.
>> we have been talking about shelby, but talk about the arizona case.
>> the arizona case is fascinating. many people remember in 1993 , congress passed the motor voter act for the national voter registration act . part of the purpose of that act is to make sure that for federal elections there would be a uniform registration process. it delegated authority to the commission to set up a registration form , which it did. unfortunately, in 2004 , arizona passed a law that added its own requirements requiring proof of citizenship in addition and above to those from the federal form. they thought that wasn't enough. they wanted more. and we, of course, objected on behalf of our clients because this placed a special burden on people in arizona versus the burdens placed on people in other states. it's unlawful, unconstitutional and contrary to the intent of a statute and federal law should preimpt a state law . they knew it when they passed it. this should not be a hard case.
>> let me pop to the panel. i want to ask about the point barbara made about the federal law autoto preempt the state laws. we have a little bit of evidence from how they decided the affordable care act case which narrowed the commerce law piece. is this basically a state's right court?
>> at the end of the day , chief justice roberts with an eye toward history avoided a partisan ruling, invalidating this. and i think the four democrat appointees, liberals on the court, justices kagan and sotomayor are in a solidly thickened favor of strong federal protection of voting rights . they only need one from the other side. the other side has to fill in. on many occasions, justice kennedy crossed over . chief justice roberts , very dramatically in the obama care case. i'm optimistic we can get justice thomas because they claim teap realists. i think nick gave us a good reminder. our constitution is not just the founding document , it's as amended. the right to vote, 14, 15, 19, 26 and --
>> thank you. every single one of them says congress should have power to enforce this.
>> so, there is broad tradition in our amendments of congressional protection of voting rights .
>> barbara , let me come back to you. there's a third case that doesn't yet have a date. it's the texas versus u.s. why doesn't it have a date yet?
>> well, no one really knows. it may be that the court is waiting to see what it does in other cases. we just don't know. i don't think we should speculate on it. what's important for people to know about the case is this is the case that follows the redistricting in 2010 in texas where the state gave four congressional districts mainly because 98% of this population increase was due to latinos in that state and drew four new districts that were all white in essence. that split and packed and cracked the latino vote so that people of latino heritage would not be able to elect the candidate of their choice. we represent the mexican-american caucus that said it's absolutely on constitutional and violates section five. it's just not, you know, good for this country. guess what? the court held that that action by the texas legislature through all those districts in a way no person of latino heritage could be elected by candidates of their choice. that district, that court held that action by the state was purposefully discriminatory. they did it for a discriminatory purpose. they redrew the districts and now there is a district in which latino candidates can be elected by latino population.
>> sheryl i want to ask you about this because we have been talking agent the voter's rights but the other half is representatives, representatives of color to get elected. when we hear stack pack and crack, they are terms of how they are drawn.
>> the texas redistricting feeds into the earlier conversation about title five. they haven't been found to violate the rights of minorities, something they do consistently. it's old news. there's a question about what does section five do that is valuable and important. we have section two to cover the country. you pointed out you have to bring a suit. congress made the decision we want to stop discrimination before it happens. let me give you a quick example. you mentioned a city in shelby county . we don't need the voting rights act . as a result of section two litigation they created council districts. a black representative was elected for 20 years. suddenly, as a result of the redistricting, they reduced the black population from 70% to 29%. they don't pre-clear it. they go ahead with the election. the justice department has to do an enforcement action to stop them from undermining the minorities to elect. it happened in 2008 , not 1965 .
>> this is not ancient history . bar brarks i'm going to give you the last ten seconds because i know you have a call to rally to protect voting rights happening on the steps of the supreme court .
>> the civil rights community because of cases being held are heard on february 27th , this coming wednesday. they have called for people around the country to come and to show their support for the voting rights act and not surprisingly people are interested, very determined. we understand what's at stake here. as americans, we know that the fight here is opened a future to this country. it's over weather or not we are going to power, share or power hold illegally. so, the fight is about our making sure that, you know, that this act, the voting rights act has the teeth and the ability to prevent discrimination. imagine, according to the congressional record , over 2,2100 plus violations of voting rights acts occurred. if every one of those went to court, what would our country look like? think of the tension, the horror, the money. this is why section five is beautiful. it prevents discrimination and keeps our country solidly in its goals. that's where we have the country. we must fight for the future. barbara will bring the fire, no matter how long she has. that's why we love having you as a guest. thank you so much barbara in washington, d.c. speaking of where we are going as a country and how fair we are going to be, up next, money and politics. the supreme court has a lot on its docket. [