Monday, July 22, 2013

Justice Stevens Slams the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act Decision

He files a brilliant dissent here in the New York Review of Books, confirming that into his 90s he still retains one of the finest (if not the finest) constitutional minds in the country. Here's a tidbit:
The Court’s heavy reliance on the importance of a “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty among the States,” while supported by language in an earlier opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, ignored the fact that Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution created a serious inequality among the states. That clause counted “three fifths” of a state’s slaves for the purpose of measuring the size of its congressional delegation and its representation in the Electoral College. That provision was offensive because it treated African-Americans as though each of them was equal to only three fifths of a white person, but it was even more offensive because it increased the power of the southern states by counting three fifths of their slaves even though those slaves were not allowed to vote. The northern states would have been politically better off if the slave population had been simply omitted from the number used to measure the voting power of the slave states.
The fact that this “slave bonus” created a basic inequality between the slave states and the free states has often been overlooked, as has its far-reaching impact. 

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