North Carolina seems not to have gotten the message.
Ours is a country of laws and those laws don’t countenance racial discrimination. This is not 1860. This is not 1960. This is 2016. Yet we have North Carolina trying with, according to a federal court, “almost surgical precision” to keep African Americans from voting.
As the Washington Post reported today, the Supreme Court, due to a 4-4 tie, upheld a lower court decision to nullify North Carolina’s new voting law. Had Judge Scalia not passed away, North Carolina’s attack on voting rights would, it seems, have been upheld. This would have set civil rights back decades.
What I find depressing is that all four justices who sided with North Carolina are considered and view themselves as “conservative” and all four justices who opposed North Carolina’s color-coded voting law are considered and view themselves as “liberal.”
Since when did the ability and freedom to vote become something that conservatives opposed and that liberals protected? A true conservative should be the most zealous guardian of our basic liberties, including the liberty to vote without undo restrictions.
Every time the Supreme divides along conservative and liberal party lines is a sad day for America. We need Supreme Court justices who surprise us with their independence and depth of thought. We don’t need wind-up dolls who do exactly as their fans and initial advocates expect. The Supreme Court is here to decide unsettled and, therefore, unpredictable legal issues without bias. But voting on unpredictable issues on a predictable basis is clear evidence of bias.
My Supreme Court appointees would understand that they are not joining one of two sides. They would understand that their allegiance is to their common sense, their careful reason, and their considered judgment. In short, they would know that their principal duty is to think deeply and always for themselves.