Chief Justice John Roberts recently argued the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in which he questioned if the government believes the “citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North.” Roberts continued by citing figures that Massachusetts had more voter turnout issues than Mississippi in which he intimated that perhaps the South might be more sensitive to black voting rights than Massachusetts. Because Mississippi, and the South in general, are typically constructed as having a more vicious racist past, they still require some federal oversight and accountability despite evidence of changes, albeit slow, in opportunities since the civil rights era came to an end. Alabama Attorney Frank Ellis stated in an interview that Congress needs to take a look at the modern day South and see what great strides have been made.
In her opening remarks, Justice Sonia Sotomayor unleashed on Bert Rein, who is representing Alabama‘s Shelby County in its challenge to the statute. She said 240 discriminatory voting laws had been blocked in the county under Section 5 of the VRA. Then she asked, “Why would we vote in favor of a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?” The liberal Justices of the High Court fundamentally disagree with Scalia and Roberts, claiming that Congress has thousand of files documenting enduring problems with race in the southern region.
Is Massachusetts more racist than Mississippi? According to Dr. Brenda Juarez at the University of Massachusetts School of Social Justice, the answer is—to some extent, yes. “Massachusetts acts the thug in ways that are and have been a more sophisticated and higher-class form of thugging in its race-based domination. Fortunes made off the backs of enslaved Blacks were brought home to Massachusetts from northern-owned cotton mills and businesses located in Mississippi and Alabama. In later generations, buses were burned in Massachusetts at the thought of racially integrating the classroom.” Until racism is dead in American, which does appear unlikely in the foreseeable future, the VRA must stand.