The Cycle | February 27, 2013
>>> a landmark law faces its most serious court. justices heard more than an hour of argument about a key provision of the voting rights act that requires statings to get approval before making changes in the way elections of held. most of the states are in the deep south and argue that the law infrinchls on their sovereignty. the obama administration helped millions of americans exercise a right to vote and getting rid of it jeopardizes that. pete williams is outside the supreme court for us. pete, there was an interesting exchange between chief justice roberts and the government's top lawyer.
>> he was making his point that the law does note accurately reflect the current conditions as opposed to what they did when congress approved this. the chief justice asked the lawyer for the obama administration which is the state that has the worst ratio of african-american voter registration and turn out to whites? the answer is massachusetts. mississippi he said has the best. his point being and i think most of the conservatives seem to agree with him here, the coverage area no longer fits the problem. the conservatives almost i would say to a person at least five seem to think that's the fatal problem with this law. the liberal members seem to think it's good enough. a close enough fit. that's really what the question is here. the supreme court it seemed likely to be on the verge of striking down at least the part of theula law for the coverage here. nay have a new new map to get it going here.
>> thanks as always. let's spin on this. it's treacherous to talk about sometimes because any secret me in or criticism is tainted by the racism. there legitimate reasons to alter or do away with section five. there already mechanisms in place for any citizen to pursue claims for section two. election law furthermore should apply to every jurisdiction equally. there should be less bureaucracy and the argument is if we stream line it makes it easier for people to vote. all kinds of people. this really turns civil rights division into a permanent department of precrime that makes little sense. the process tow bail out of the watch list is arbitrary and expensive and difficult. remaining in it, as pete was discussing, it relies on the outdated formulas that don't take any account current information. it's not evidence-based and that begs scrutiny.
>> these are reasonable questions. one of the problems is you are asking people to suffer in terms of election law and in terms of redistricting in terms of when the election will be held and go to the court and ask for them after the election has been held and maybe a second election. section two it takes years to get through the courts. they are suffering discrimination and then having to prove it. that is not what we want to do. rather than stopping the discrimination at the door. the idea that these -- these are out date and these areas moved forward. the court today asked why is shelby, al bottoma bringing this when they have evidence of recent discrimination. the rights act was successful in knocking down a voter id law in texas that the court ruled was discriminatory towards black and brown people . the same in florida where they tried to stop early voting . that is used a lot and there is a need for this law. scalia spoke to your point. is this a permanent racial a littlement and what tfundamental constitutional rights to be able to vote. ultimately what we are talking about is the browning of america . very soon and a couple of decades, there will be more people of color than white people in america . if you think that shift in power will not be attempts to suppress the votes of black and brown people and paying attention to the history of america . it is going to be or has been that safety net that kept things fair.
>> fortunately the bulk of the discrimination do come from the coverage area. 81% of successful section two lawsuits which is another part of the law come from the jurisdictions that are covered. is the coverage area perfect? it's not. we are seeing attempts coming across the country. the problem with the argument here and i'm not saying this is what you were saying, but it's let's just get rid of it and come up with a map that works and expand the coverage since we are seeing that across the country. my idea is to see them cover the country. make it uniform and put it on all of the durjurisdictions. it doesn't make sense to throw the baby out with the bath water since we don't have this perfect. let's not do it at all. there was an example i read about ari berman that is terrific and everybody should read. it's an example where section five was used in 2001 in mississippi. three weeks before election day . the all white counsel and mayor decided to cancel because the population shifted so it was majority african-american. they had candidates on the ballot and they decided to cancel the election. the court stepped in and said you can't do that. huh to commit that plan for approval before they could go through with it. unfortunately i think republicans gave us plenty of reasons this year for why this effort is still needed. it's interesting the timing. if this happened two years ago, the public would have been less engaged and less upset over getting rid of section five.
>> you strike it down first and the state legislature , you think it was coordination here. the conservative movement . that would strike the law down. what fascinates me about the voter rights act is an as expect it is not part of the lawsuit. when you think about the issue of what the conditions were when it was enacted in 1965 and amended a few times, where we are now, you look at the unintended consequences and it raises questions. the thing that interests me is this. it was amended to get the minority and majority. know opportunity for blacks and hispanics to have representation in congress that. took effect after the 1990 census. that's where they do redistricting. this took effect after 1990 and there was an explosion in the first election. there was this explosion in the number of black members in congress. they set records and maintained the levels since then. it was approved by creating the districts and packing in urban areas and black voters and hispanic voters. when it's happened, there was an alliance between the black groups and republican party . they saw a huge opportunity here in redistricting to get all the voters into very tight narrow areas. they have a wider distribution across the states and here we are in 2013 and we can say there was nearly four dozen black members of the house of representatives that was pretty good. only two in the senate. they were only appointments. the track record of black members of the house moving up to run for governor or senate. they are stigmatized within the state's culture. they are too liberal and won't connect with the electorate and they don't have as much money and never have the money to run that. raises the question. i don't know the way around that because if you do away with the districts, you might see the numbers in the house dron. i don't know the way around it. it raises an interesting question.
>> we will have to wait to hear the court's decision. the hope made his decision to step down, leaving the 1.2 billion member church without a pontiff. he delivered a message it is to faithful early this morning in st. peter's square. he will meet when they gather in roam to pick his successor. he will leave to start his retirement and they will convene soon after that. the facebook fans will talk about how the church will fare. the only way the church will be better off if is if they install a pope that moves from the 12th century to the 21st. harsh words. do you think there will be a fundamental shift in the church? we are looking for your thoughts. back to the imminent budget cuts and defense spending said to be chopped. could it be a good thing? the 24-year veteran who said america 's military might is making us less