° empty

Requirements should be same in all states

Chief Justice John Roberts voiced the concern of many Southerners Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court discussed a case challenging a portion of the Voting Rights Act.

Roberts asked an attorney for the federal government whether the Obama administration thinks, “the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North?”

The answer given was, “no.”

That question was among a number of skeptical comments conservative justices made as the court considered a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The section requires a number of mostly Southern states and a few random municipalities to seek pre-clearance over any change made to voting districts.

The preclearance requirement was necessary in the 1960s, when minorities were severely disenfranchised by oppressive racism. But the bigger challenge then was the inability of many minority citizens to fight back and take racism claims to court.

That has changed significantly in recent years. Now, anyone can practically sue anyone else for nearly anything.

If critics believe the removal of Section 5 will make it easier for people to discriminate, those people have clearly never been dragged to court.

Much has changed in the modern South in the past nearly 50 years. While pockets of racism still exist here — as it exists in every other state in the Union — continuing to make states pay a penalty nearly half a century later simply isn’t fair.

If preclearance is required for Mississippi, it should be required for Ohio and Illinois, too.

A final decision from the Supreme Court isn’t expected until June, but we hope they side on reason and the realization that what’s good for one state is good for all.