Paul R. Lehman, Justice Scalia comments on Voting Right Act show bias

March 5, 2013 at 12:27 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Prejudice, state Government, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 2 Comments
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When Supreme Court justice Athoni Scalia made a comment concerning voting rights last week, he readily got the attention of many people, including a number of his colleagues. He got their attention when he used a certain phrase that created cause for concern in how he looks at the right to vote. Part of his comments were:”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.”

The phrase that caused concern is “perpetuation of racial entitlement” because it opened the door to a number of interpretations. Depending on how one interprets the word “entitlement” the fact that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of every citizen to vote would not make voting an entitlement. On the other hand, if one interprets the word “entitlement” as a “right,” then the question of his use of the word “racial” comes into play; that is, he would be suggesting that a racial right exists. If, however, someone interprets the words “racial entitlement,” as a reference to a group of people receiving special privilege, then the third word “perpetuation,” becomes more significant in that the entire phrase can be interpreted as a continuation of giving special privilege to a certain group of people based on their ethnicity.
The problems involving voter registration before and during the last election brought to public scrutiny how some states were attempting to prevent some citizens from voting. Scalia’s use of the phrase “racial entitlement” does not have a place in the discussion on voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear on who can vote and where they can vote: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The wording of the Amendment note specifically that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nowhere in this Amendment is there a reference to race or entitlement. So, why would he use such a phrase?
On a number of occasions, Justice Scalia has made statements that could be interpreted as having an ethnic bias. With that in mind, we learned that Rep. Jim Clyburn reacted “on the latest Supreme Court’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act and he had some harsh words for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia saying that his criticism of the landmark civil rights legislation is rooted in the fact that he is ‘white and proud.’”(Fox Nation) In essence, Clyburn sees Scalia as having a bias towards non European Americans.
One wonders why Justice Scalia would possess any inkling of bias against minority Americans seeing that his father was an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife’s parents were immigrants from Italy as well. The fact that most Italians prior to 1952 were viewed along with other ethnic minorities as non-white, led to the immigration of people from Italy, Poland, Russia and Greece being drastically cut. One must assume that Scalia as a youth was not subjected to the ethnic discrimination that would have created for him some memorable experiences that might serve as a base for dealing with prejudice.
If Jim Clyburn’s statement has any creditability regarding Scalia being “white and proud,” then we have an idea of why he might view ethnic Americans in a different light from the way he views so-called whites. The self-conception of European Americans after World War II as being the only true Americans must have been the philosophy adopted by Scalia, since he see himself as white. The idea for “white” being the true Americans and superior to all other Americans must have been a comforting through to Scalia. Unfortunately, those concepts were false along with the concept of multiple, biological races. Nonetheless, bigots still hold on to their beliefs and display them at opportune times.
Rachel Maddow on the Jon Stewart show (3-1-13) talked about the fact that the Rosa Parks statue was being unveiled during the time the Supreme Court was meeting on the Voting Right Act. She noted that Scalia used that time to make his suggestive statement. She said:
“He’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows its offensive and he knows he’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, which he got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread who is using the n-word. ‘Oh, it made you mad? How about if I say this? Does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?’ He’s that guy! He’s that kind of guy! When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive while talking about the cornerstone of the federal Civil Rights Act, he’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah!'”
In his language and behavior, Scalia seems to be saying that he is not only white but also a Supreme Court Justice, so he can say anything he want to say without fear of reprisal. To not be aware of our country’s history on race is not good for a Judge. For a justice to display a biased character from the bench is worse.
According to Maddow, Scalia loves to make people angry by making these uncalled for remarks, but they get him the attention he wants. Let us hope he does not influence any of the other judges. That would be a disaster for the country.



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  1. A strange man, he. IF there had been no other reason to elect President Obama again, denying his opponent the opportunity to name another associate justice of his ilk would be enough.

  2. Excuse me, wasn’t the Voting Rights Act put in place as a remedy to three centuries of “racial entitlement?” The fact this country needs a Voting Rights Act to underscore the exact same right you outlined in the 14th Amendment, and the strongest attempts to undermine both since enactment just occurred in the last National election, strongly suggest a “racial entitlement” construct remains in place. In the words of Albert Einstein, “the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”

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