Supreme Court rulings do and don’t show global sense

When it comes to civil rights, the U.S. Supreme Court seems to give with one hand what it takes away with the other.

Many celebrated yesterday’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied equal liberties to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. In a parallel ruling, the high court rebuffed efforts to undo a lower-court ruling that same-sex marriage should be legal in California.

In both of these cases, the Supreme Court ruled that all people in the United States should enjoy equal rights and equal protection under the law, as provided in the U.S. Constitution.

These landmark decisions, unfortunately, came on the heals of a ruling earlier this week that struck down a key anti-discrimination provision of the 1964 Voting Rights Act.

The high court essentially invalidated the advance-approval requirement of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with histories of discrimination against blacks and other minorities, such as Mississippi and  Alabama, to get federal approval before making any changes that affect the ability of minorities to vote or enjoy fair representation in Congress.

The court said the prior-approval provision cannot be used unless Congress develops a new formula for determining which states and localities should be covered.

The political reality is that Republicans in Congress will effectively block the development of such an updated formula, which means increased voter suppression among blacks and minorities in the previously covered districts — thus increasing the chances for Republican victories there.

This is the same cynical thinking that guides Republicans to oppose any immigration reform that opens a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, who generally vote for Democrats once citizenship is granted.

So, in my opinion, the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court is taking away civil rights with one hand while assuring civil rights with the other hand. This inconsistency, I feel, reflects a political bias by the conservative majority rather than an impartial view of the law and all citizens as equal.

In this respect, therefore, I do not believe all of the recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court can be said to make global sense.

Judah Freed
Author: Judah Freed

Judah Freed is the author of Global Sense and the publisher at Hoku House.


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