At Commonweal, Dominic Preziosi asks what has changed since Selma, and Tom Blackburn replies:
Selma was about voting rights when it began. It led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Now, 50 years later, what has changed is that states with Republican majorities in their legislatures are inventing new and better replacements for grandfather clauses and poll taxes that kept people of color from voting. Requiring state-recognized ID cards, which one can get between the hours of 6:30 and 7 a.m. at a courthouse 75 miles away or from a friendly gunshop owner, for one example.
Or, you can rip up the streets in front of the polls black people use, and station police at barricades to protect people from driving to the polls through the ruins and being injured. That one was pulled as recently as 2000 in one of the precincts the Supremes decided doesn't need oversight anymore. The Supremes were in the process of gutting the Voting Rights Act at the time, as they had gutted Brown v Board of Education earlier. The press hardly noticed because, after all, Benghazi.
And if all else fails, some state -- say Wisconsin -- can lead the way by rechartering the Ku Klux Klan. I am sure five Catholic Supremes will find no constitutional problem in that. Times change, and racists must keep up with them.
And, of course, some Commonweal regulars don't like either Tom's candor about the rabid retrenchment of voting rights for minority groups now underway in Republican-controlled legislatures across the U.S., or his zingy parting shot about how five of the six Catholic Supremes (hint: think Supreme Catholic men) are helping to lead this retrenchment. So Joseph Dunn goes to bat for the Catholic Supreme men and assures us that things are hunky-dory for African-American voters these days.
But somehow Dunn never gets around to addressing Blackburn's observations about absurdly onerous voter i.d. requirements which demand that prospective voters drive 75 miles to a courthouse office that is open between 6:30 and 7 of a morning, or about streets ripped up prior to elections in front of polling places for black voters, or about police barricades erected to "protect" people seeking to vote.
Odd, isn't it, Joseph Dunn's silence on those points?