Columnist Charles Krauthammer hit back at critics of the Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to strike down a section of the Voting Rights Act determining which states needed federal permission to change their voting laws, saying their overreaction was a "classic case of reactionary liberalism" and that the bill had succeeded.
BRET BAIER: You had many African-American lawmakers and activists saying this was a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act. Other analysts said, you know, you look at the demographics politically of who's getting elected in the deep south and that has changed dramatically.
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KRAUTHAMMER: It's a dagger in the heart of a bill that succeeded, whose time has come and gone. The conditions, as the Chief Justice wrote, are radically different. In five of the six states, the original southern states to whom all of this was applied, the rates of voting among blacks is higher than it is among whites. This is a classic case of reactionary liberalism, hanging on to all the successes of the mid-last century without recognizing that conditions are radically different and some things have to change. This one has succeeded.
Among the reactionaries to which Krauthammer referred were media personalities like MSNBC's Chris Hayes tweeting they felt "physically enraged" and Melissa Harris-Perry saying her citizenship was essentially over. A Minnesota Democratic representative tweeted that conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's lone African American member, was an "Uncle Thomas" for joining the majority on the 5-4 decision.
Baier and Krauthammer's remarks are valid, however, especially in light of reports that the black voter turnout in 2012 was, for the first time, higher than non-Hispanic whites. The Washington Free Beacon reported that conservative activists and black leaders celebrated the Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision to update the VRA as recognition of the progress the nation has made in race relations:
"I’m pleased; it’s time that we put those Voting Rights Act provisions that basically segregates the country behind us," said Ward Connerly, president of the American Civil Rights Institute and longtime critic of racial preferences and affirmative action. "It’s a new era. The court understands that and now we can begin to move on."
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the federal government could no longer force southern states to "pre-clear" all voting laws and procedures, as well as congressional district maps, with the Department of Justice. The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, ordered Congress to update the 40-year old data on discrimination before determining which states would fall under federal supervision.
"If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula," Roberts wrote. "It would have been irrational for Congress to distinguish between states in such a fundamental way based on 40-year-old data, when today’s statistics tell an entirely different story."