The Ed Show | February 28, 2013
>>> show." justice antonin scalia 's assault on the voting rights act is still sending shock waves . in yesterday's oral arguments on section 5 of the voting rights act scalia said, "whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it's very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes." this is not about racial entitlements. it's about equal access to the ballot. well, the reaction today has been pretty fierce. the american prospect says " scalia 's argument has precedent. in the white supremacist arguments made by the supreme court in the 19th century when it was dismantling reconstruction. the majority opinion said there must be some stage when the freed slave takes the rank of a mere citizen and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws." scalia also drew attention for basically saying senators couldn't possibly vote against the voting rights act and so the supreme court would have to intervene. the legal expert at think progress said, "if the theory were taken seriously by a majority of the justices, it would potentially undermine medicare, social security , and countless other programs." today was not all doom and gloom, however. some voting rights advocates said justice anthony kennedy might uphold the law despite his tough questioning. "i think justice kennedy was very methodical and deliberate in his assessment," said texas state representative trey martinez fisher, who witnessed the argument. "i don't think he showed anybody anything." well, cross your fingers. tonight let's bring in congresswoman sheila jackson lee of texas . congresswoman, great to have you with us tonight.
>> ed, good to be with you this evening.
>> you bet. this story deserves more conversation. that's why we're doing it tonight. i mean, it sounds like justice scalia is prepared to do the dirty work of the right wing here and justify in the most offensive way possible. your thoughts on this.
>> ed, i'm glad you're doing this show. first of all, i was in the courtroom as well. and all of us have such an enormous amount of respect for the three branches of government and certainly the awe of being in the united states supreme court , even though a member of the supreme court bar. and what you wanted was justice. and frankly, there was a lot of give and take and there are a lot of judges that i think will have a strong effort, or make a strong effort to work with justice kennedy in spite of his questions to really explain what section 5 is. it is a codification of the 15th amendment , ed. and it is not about entitlements. what it says is that there will be no blocking of a right to vote on the baseus of race or col color. and that means that whether or not you are hispanic or african-american or asian as the bill has translated itself through adding language minorities, it simply says that you will have the right to vote that has been given to all citizens. why a justice would classify the simple protected right to vote as racial entitlements baffles me and offends me. in fact, yesterday was an enormously emotional day. with the rosa parks statue, with the hearing of this case, in the words of john lewis , who said, "we are not going back." the court took the shelby case because in fact, ed, there were a number of laws that blocked a citizen's right to vote. that's why this case is before the supreme court . and that's why section 5 has been used to create an opportunity for voting.
>> that speaks volumes of just what's out there across america, about how people want to attack the voting rights . despite the federal law . and run it the way they want to run it in their own back yard. the voting rights act has been reauthorized four times on four different occasions by -- we can only term it as overwhelming margins. i mean, are you hearing republican lawmakers standing up for it now that it's under attack?
>> well, i am -- i know that we worked very closely with chairman sensenbrenner in the 2006 reauthorization with some 15,000 pages. i know that --
>> the point i'm making here, congresswoman, is that i don't see any republican stepping up saying, you know, we've done this before, 98 votes in the senate, a bunch of votes over in the house. they're not troubled at all by what justice scalia said? i find that very interesting.
>> well, i hope we give them an opportunity to take to the floor and take to public forum . you're absolutely right. if you want to ask me whether there's been a choir, a crescendo of republicans challenging that statement, i've not heard nap.
>> here's one of the lawyers challenging section 5.
>> we've made great strides over the years. we have minority participation at record levels. we have minority candidates elected by 90% white populations.
>> he says we no longer need the voting rights act . i mean, what is reality here?
>> he's absolutely wrong. and i will say this. this is what we said in 2006 . i'm on the house judiciary committee with the other colleagues. and what we said is progress -- when i say we, members of congress listening to testimony said progress has been made, ed. but the purpose of section 5 is to ensure that as the states make each additional new law that may block voting we have section 5 preclearance. in 2006 , ed, we did not have the discriminatory texas voter i.d. law that would not allow to you use your student i.d. or your state government i.d. but a concealed weapons i.d. and did not allow you to have voting places where you could get the --
>> they're working against the federal law as best they can.
>> so section 5 was the one that would help say to the texas folk that cannot be. so to my friends who want to argue that they're out of it, no, they're not because next year they could make another law that would block voting and section 5 stands there as a codification of the constitution to block those kinds of laws. john lewis said it. i join him. we are not going back, ed. and we're going forward.
>> that is the bottom line. that law is there for a reason, because we know the righties aren't going to stop going after it. congresswoman sheila jackson lee , good to have you with us tonight. thank you.
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