Voting Rights Act certainly due for review

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mississippi and other Southern states acted like children nearly 50 years ago, thumbing their noses at the federal government over issues of race.

Southern states couched their childish, even crazy, behavior as an issue of “states rights.”

By today’s standards that makes about as much sense as an 8-year-old avowing he has the constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, thus he doesn’t have to mind his parents.

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The federal government took its belt off, as it were, in 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

In particular, a portion of the law — Section 5 — mandates punitive rules against Southern states. In particular, since the law’s inception, any change in the rules regarding voting in the states affected must receive pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department.

In 1965, it was sharp, but necessary punishment to ensure the institutional racism was clipped at the root.

The law worked, and evidence of that fact exists in nearly every corner of Mississippi.

Do racial patterns still exist in almost all politics? Sure, but that doesn’t indicate a need for federal scrutiny over every aspect of Mississippi’s elections.

In the next few months, the U.S. Supreme Court plans to review the constitutionality of Section 5, based on a case from Alabama.

We’ve long argued the requirement for preclearance is outdated and unfair for Southern states.

Nearly 50 years later, the constant reminders of wrongs done by citizens who are now quite elderly are not fair or justified. Fortunately, this is not your grandfather’s South.

Either the preclearance mandate needs to be lifted or it should be applied to all states.