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October 23, 2014

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Racial Entitlement, Only to Scalia

bloody-sunday_selma-al

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defended his most recent comment, calling Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement” by claiming “It’s been written about.”

Scalia is right, and who talked about “racial entitlement” in 1995? Scalia. Like Don Quixote, Scalia has been alone in jousting at his windmill of racial entitlement for 18 years, and maybe longer.

However, his most recent comment shows that he will use his obsession with perceived racial entitlement to explain an overwhelming congressional vote for a universally supported law such as the Voting Rights Act.

His argument shows that Scalia would have no problem taking our country’s legal system back to the 1950s, if not further.

Scalia, appointed by President Reagan in 1986, seems to believe that federal efforts to block changes in recent state voter ID laws are unnecessary, even though the Justice Department argues that such laws disproportionately affect black voters.

Also supporting Scalia’s stance is Chief Justice John Roberts. Both supposedly believe that voting conditions have improved so much that a portion of the Voting Rights Act, which allows the federal government to intercede in states that make it difficult for blacks or minorities to vote, is unnecessary.

Roberts and Scalia are showing an ostrich head-in the-sand mentality. If you can’t see it, it must not be true. Furthermore, Scalia chose to renew the battle with his windmill when he said that the Voting Rights Act in a sense is a “racial entitlement.”

His quote laments about how Congress has enacted the Voting Rights Act with nary a negative vote.

“And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it,” Scalia said last week. “And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

Oh, so in this case, Scalia wants to overturn unanimous congressional approval because he thinks all of these congressmen are facing undue political pressure to pass the Voting Rights Act., resulting in the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

But there’s something even more telling about this comment. In the midst of his statement, Scalia says about the perpetuation of racial entitlement, “It’s been written about.”

I searched all types of websites to find when the term “racial entitlement” was first used. I found it – in 1995. It was a Supreme Court case involving a company that challenged a federal law giving federally funded contractors a financial incentive to hire subcontractors that are certified as small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and requires the contractor to presume that such individuals include minorities.

The case was sent back to a lower court, but Scalia chose that case to write a concurring opinion and brought up the term of “racial entitlement.”

His opinion: “In my view, government can never have a ‘compelling interest’ in discriminating on the basis of race in order to ‘make up’ for past racial discrimination in the opposite direction … Individuals who have been wronged by unlawful racial discrimination should be made whole; but under our Constitution there can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race.”

Of course, if were not for the courts, how could a wronged individual “be made whole?”

Scalia added, “To pursue the concept of racial entitlement – even for the most admirable and benign of purposes – is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”

What an uplifting, rose-colored glasses comment. Of course, I don’t think anyone has ever heard of the American race.

You see, in Scalia’s eyes, “racial entitlement” reinforces and preserves “mischief.” Like changing voter laws to make it more difficult for blacks and other minorities to cast ballots?

So, Scalia believes we should simply close our eyes and deny, deny, deny, and hope that any racial issue goes away.

To top it off, he uses his own term from 1995, racial entitlement, as a reason to dismantle the Voting Rights Act.

In other words, he is citing a term he created to justify using it now as a legal precedent. Actually, I found it used two other times. One by that tower of jurisprudence, TexasFred, on his right-wing blog, and from Pamela Geller, a rabid anti-Muslim, who used racial entitlement as a way to oppose mosques or anything Islamic coming to a community.

Essentially, he is saying that our Constitution does not offer protection for minorities and we should just keep it that way.

What great legal standing for Scalia’s argument. Thankfully, Scalia wasn’t a justice generations ago. Segregation in schools? Nah, we’re all Americans. Water fountains for whites only? Can’t be. Blacks prohibited from staying in motels or eating in restaurants? Never happened.

Deny, deny, deny.

What can be done about Scalia? Fortunately, he is turning 77 on March 11, so his days on the nation’s highest court are numbered. So, racial entitlement, the windmill for Justice Quixote, will fade away, and I think no one on the court has this same fervor to pursue Scalia’s obsession.

Time will heal this wound, and, hopefully, the nation’s highest court will once again return to the 21st century.

 

Photo Credit: thecommongroundblog.com

Alabama state troopers swing nightsticks to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., March 7, 1965. As several hundred marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge to begin a protest march to Montgomery, state troopers assaulted the crowd with clubs and whips. (from photoblog.msnbc.msn.com)

Roy Bernard (8 Posts)