Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nate Silver tackles Chief Justice Roberts' statement on VRA

Nate Silver shows again why he is compelling reading even when there is no election going on.

See his great analysis of Chief Justice Roberts' drive-by argument about Massachusetts and Mississippi voting patterns for blacks and whites. It is a marvelous analysis.

My concern that I would add is that I find the quality of argument from Scalia has become akin to a right wing talk radio host, and Roberts, who I had deeply respected when he first was nominated for Chief Justice, is continuing to move in Scalia's direction. From my own perusal of the statistics a few days ago, after first hearing about Roberts' statement, I concluded the proper way to view the stats was that the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has been effective in increasing black voter turnout in those States which had overt, and often violent oppression against blacks. Therefore, the VRA should be deemed a success. This, however, presents a much more difficult burden for the Court if it wishes to overturn Congress' and the President's legislation that had re-approved the federal oversight--which is why Roberts played games with the polling data in Massachusetts and Mississippi in a way that also betrayed his own naivete. Does he really believe that any black person in the US would conclude their rights to vote are safer in Mississippi than Massachusetts, or would there be far more black Americans who would say, "You know, with federal oversight, I feel nearly as safe voting in Mississippi as I do in Massachusetts?"

As a final note, I also find it interesting to learn from Silver that parts of New York State and Arizona have been subject to federal oversight of their voting systems. This fact fatally undermines the argument that the federal oversight is limited to the American South and is a so-called "unfair" burden on the American South.


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