April 30, 2009

"Congress can impose this disparate treatment forever because of the history in the South?"

Chief Justice Roberts in argument in the Voting Rights Act case, which Dahlia Lithwick summarizes — with unusually labored breeziness — here.
[Justice Scalia] insists that the judgment of Congress is not to be trusted because when it came to reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, "they get elected under this system. Why should they take it away?" Oh. My. God. You mean legislators are self-interested!?! That must mean the court is free to substitute its judgment for that of Congress.
This is a too-cheap laugh for Lithwick. Obviously, this is not a typical case for deferring to Congress. The challenged law structures the election of members of Congress, and it applies to some states and not others.
Debo Adegbile is in the case representing the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. When he reminds the court that "Congress is permitted to use so much of its power as is necessary" to remedy racial discrimination, the Chief Justice clobbers him with: "Is it your position that today Southerners are more likely to discriminate than Northerners?" When Adegbile replies that the covered states tend to be repeat offenders in this area, Roberts comes back with, "So your answer is yes?"

Scalia asks Adegbile what the vote was when Congress reauthorized Section 5 in 2006.

Answer: 390-33 in the House, 98-0 in the Senate. Scalia retorts that "the Israeli Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin, used to have a rule that if the death penalty was pronounced unanimously, it was invalid, because there must be something wrong there." (And before you liberals start crowing that Scalia is citing foreign law, let it be noted that he is citing religious law, which is totally cool and different than foreign law.) Today Scalia seems to have fashioned a new constitutional principle: The courts should always defer to Congress unless Congress is unanimous, in which case Congress is a sack of self-interested liars. Fascinating.
Well, think about it. They're all there — from all the states — and they all got elected under the existing system, a system that is not uniform among the states. Doesn't that mean something?

84 comments:

Salamandyr said...

Isn't this all oral argument Lithwick is discussing here? Could it be possible that Scalia is acting as a devil's advocate here, proposing interesting questions to see what the lawyers say, rather than arguing from some pre-determined principle?

I don't think the Chief Justice or Scalia are arguing for anything yet. That will have to wait till we actually hear what they say, rather than just hearing the questions they ask.

MadisonMan said...

The courts should always defer to Congress unless Congress is unanimous, in which case Congress is a sack of self-interested liars.

Congress is always a pack of self-interested liars. It's not just when they vote with unanimity.

The Drill SGT said...

Isn't it obvious to Lithwick, that there out to be a very high threshold in order for the Federal Government to intercede in internal legislative process of some States and not others?

David said...

The Voting Rights Act as applied to the South today is an exercise in smugness and prejudice. You only have to live here in the south to see that the prior evils that kept blacks from voting are gone, regardless of what the 15,000 pages of evidence said. Blacks and whites vote in pretty much equal percentages and attempts to disenfranchise blacks would be condemned at every level.

The south has changed massively and irrevocably. It's amazing that instead of celebrating this the federal congress continues to stigmatize the south. It's even more amazing that in finding the new types of "abuses" that supposedly justify the Act's extension, Congress was unwilling to look at northern elections.

There are still lots of race issues in the south, but they have become similar to the race issues of the entire nation. The era of state sponsored political exclusion of african americans is over.

Zeb Quinn said...

The south has changed massively and irrevocably. It's amazing that instead of celebrating this the federal congress continues to stigmatize the south.

It's an overwhelmingly Democrat congress. It's a south that trends strongly Republican in its vote. Ain't hard to figure out.

former law student said...

Scalia seems to be arguing that the Senators of the old Confederacy capriciously acted against the interest of their constituents, when they voted to renew the Voting Rights Act. I don't see how this law fails on equal protection grounds, unless Dixieland residents are a protected class.

But, any such law should provide defined objectives, the meeting of which would end Federal oversight.

Edmund said...

Well, we all know that there is no racism, segregation, or discrimination in New York, Chicago, or Boston. Right? They don't need such supervision since they all hold hands and sing songs of great harmony all the time.

Jeremy said...

Zeb
We're still a 51-49 nation, regardless of which party happens to have the 51. Remember that when you talk about "overwhelming" numbers and "strong trends."

-The Other Jeremy

Maguro said...

Scalia seems to be arguing that the Senators of the old Confederacy capriciously acted against the interest of their constituents....

Yes, it's shocking that politicians would act for their own interests rather than those of their constituents.

traditionalguy said...

Affirmative discrimination sells "contributions" like nothing else. Why pay for equal treatment for everybody? The hot seller is a vote for an exclusive, a monopoly, a special preference. That will sell. The Congress may have to offer some split of the political bribes with the Supremos just to keep up this Charade of Justice going on forever. Arlen Specter will broker the deal, for a reasonable and righteous fee.

NKVD said...

Of course congress can do what they want. Even the south is ruled by socialists now, so we get what we deserve.

Bissage said...

There’s nothing wrong with the Voting Rights Act that couldn’t be fixed with a good caning.

rocketeer67 said...

Since 1990, I have lived in South Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Surprisingly (to me, at least) of the three, Massachusetts is far more agressively racist in every way.

David said...

"Scalia seems to be arguing that the Senators of the old Confederacy capriciously acted against the interest of their constituents, when they voted to renew the Voting Rights Act. I don't see how this law fails on equal protection grounds, unless Dixieland residents are a protected class."

You have a point though that's not what Scalia argued. I'd like to take a look at the voting and see why they got a unaminous vote. I can assure you that, for example, Jim DeMint does not favor the voting rights act. There must have been something more going on.

David said...

"Scalia seems to be arguing that the Senators of the old Confederacy capriciously acted against the interest of their constituents, when they voted to renew the Voting Rights Act. I don't see how this law fails on equal protection grounds, unless Dixieland residents are a protected class."

You have a point though that's not what Scalia argued. I'd like to take a look at the voting and see why they got a unaminous vote. I can assure you that, for example, Jim DeMint does not favor the voting rights act. There must have been something more going on.

Robert said...

I'm not sure why anyone reads Lithwick. Her "legal mind" is about the same as the average journalist, and that's not a compliment. She seems to believe, based on this commentary and the pernicious racism of the South (no Northerners are racist, after all Lithwick is from the North!), that Congress should have the unfettered right to pass laws to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. Fine. That's a reasonable argument based on the Amendment's enforcement language. Will her answer be the same regarding the Defense of Marriage Act? After all, the 14th applies to the states through that amendment and incorporates most, but not all, of the original Bill of Rights, I think is what we're told by the smartest legal minds today. And those same smartest minds tell us that gay marriage is now an equal right. Ergo, Congress has the right to enforce the 14th by defending straight marriage.

I suppose we will be told later that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Consistency of Lithwick's outcome is all that matters, as with every other journalist. All bow down before the super-legislature of the Nine in Black Robes.

holdfast said...

"Congress is a sack of self-interested liars"

Well, duh. Now tell me something new.

MadisonMan said...

Are any Justices -- besides Clarence Thomas -- actually from the South? Maybe that's part of the problem.

John Thacker said...

The courts should always defer to Congress unless Congress is unanimous, in which case Congress is a sack of self-interested liars.It is possible, though not inevitable, that when Congress is unanimous it is because they are protecting their own power as incumbent members of Congress. (This by itself may be a good or bad thing-- sometimes I definitely cheer on Congress maintaining the balance of power against the other branches.) Lithwick should at least be open to this idea in the case of, e.g., campaign finance.

Eric said...

Souter: But what we've got in the record in front of us -- I don't have a laundry list to read, but I mean, we've got I think at the present time a 6-point -- a 16-point registration difference on Hispanic and non-Hispanic white voters in Texas. We've got a record of some 600 interpositions by the -- by the Justice Department on section 5 proceedings, section 5 objections, over a period of about 20 years. We got a record that about two-thirds of them were based on the Justice Department's view that it was intentional discrimination. We've got something like 600 section 2 lawsuits over the same period of time.

The point that I'm getting at is I don't understand, with a record like that, how you can maintain as a basis for this suit that things have radically changed
.

That's the best he can do? Hispanics don't register as much as whites? How many of them are eligible to register?

As far as section 5 "interpositions" are concerned, the existence of x number of legal actions under section 5 tells you nothing because you don't know how many you would have had in other jurisdictions where such actions can't be brought.

Pathetic. I sure hope he's playing devil's advocate.

Beth said...

which is totally cool and different than foreign lawso it will be totally cool when he starts quoting Sharia law! Good reasoning. Foreign's COOL as long as it's religious.

Beth said...

And I'm assuming Althouse is being sarcastic - gosh, I hope.

Cedarford said...

Zeb
We're still a 51-49 nation, regardless of which party happens to have the 51. Remember that when you talk about "overwhelming" numbers and "strong trends."
-The Other Jeremy
I'd argue that all the facts go against that year 2000 type of thinking. With the meltdown of Wall Street and abandonment of the Republican Party in most regions of the country other than small rural states and the Fundie rump state region, we are no longer a 51-49 nation.
No more than we were after the Goldwater debacle, 1977, 1984 with the Reagan sweep, or when Dems were repudiated in 1994.
As a conservative, I think that sucks. But I'm realistic and not engaged in self-delusion that all the Republicans need is a right-wing Goddess with charisma to tweak the 49-51 split back the other way with a few more tubthumper speeches and getting the Southern megachurches revved up more.
=========================
The saying "What Congress has set in motion, Congress can easily undo" has proved quite fallacious in history. Certain actions by organizations take on a life of their own and a constituency of their own and are almost impossible to reverse without destroying the organization in Chapt 11, or when a catastrophic budget or other crisis hits government.
Congress, which has no Chapter 11 but should, and is not constrained like state budgets because it can print money and take what Rising China will lend it..Congress has such internal and Fed bureaucratic institutional resistance to change what Congress once created but is now outmoded or failing, that they recognize that the legislative process being subverted. By members or paid lobbyists - and the only way to get change is through Commissions (SS Commission of 1986, BRAC, 9/11 Commission, proposed Entitlement Commission) - or by the beloved Courts saving them from dysfunctionality.
With the Voter Rights Act, resistance is doubled because the South being on probation and subject to special rules the last 45 years has created powerful "senior" politicians running the Committees that have job security ensured by the Voting Rights Act perpetuation. And Congressional ideologues who insist "nothing has changed since Selma and the Black Moses", (the one perfect American - starting to lead us to the Promised Land - but His Mighty Works are not yet done!! ) And top it all off with liberal northern Senators delighted to deflect their own State's racial troubles off on "The Oppressive South of 2009, same as it was in 1963 -the real race-challenged place that needs fixing before we discuss Detroit, wealth divides along skin color lines in Dodd's Connecticut, Teddy's Massachesetts, Schumer's NYC."

Dale said...

Dahlia Lithwick is a brilliant idiotThere, I said it.

I'm not proud, but it needed to be said.

rocketeer67 said...

Beth, you're off your game today. The "totally cool" quote is Lithwick's.

You can tell, because even as sarcasm, it's moronic.

Justin said...

Since 1990, I have lived in South Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Surprisingly (to me, at least) of the three, Massachusetts is far more agressively racist in every way.I think yours is a unique experience. I have lived in South Carolina, Ohio, and New York, and in my experience, while racism is obviously present in all three states, it is still culturally acceptable in SC, especially among the older generations. That's the difference.

rocketeer67 said...

I think yours is a unique experience.

Perhaps. There's no way for me to know, since as you point out, my experience is my own. Again, my experience, but while racists in SC were certainly more open, they were far fewer and openly laughed at or ignored. In Massachusetts, while the racism is somewhat sub rosa, I've had the unpleasant experience of dealing with far more racists, and it seems more pervasive and pernicious as a result.

Revenant said...

If Congress unanimously approves of something that has nowhere NEAR unanimous support among the population, that suggests that Congress is acting in the interests of Congress rather than the interests of the American people.

Really, though, it doesn't matter how many Congresscritters voted for the Act. It is unconstitutional and ought to be overturned, regardless of how many people think it is a good idea. If Congress wants to be able to discriminate along racial lines in drawing up Congressional districts it can repeal the 14th amendment.

Justin said...

In Massachusetts, while the racism is somewhat sub rosa, I've had the unpleasant experience of dealing with far more racists, and it seems more pervasive and pernicious as a result.You're probably right about it being a "behind closed doors" thing in Mass. I think some observations about growing up in SC may underscore my point, though: there was (and still is) de facto segregation in churches, neighborhoods, and the lunchrooms of public schools; it was not "acceptable," as a white person, to have black friends, unless they were "oreos" (a term that, unfortunately, is not considered racist by most S. Carolinians); interracial marriage is still viewed by many as taboo; etc. Theses things were less pervasive in OH and NY, in my experience

dick said...

I will definitely agree on Massachusetts. It seems to be endemic there. I still remember when I was in charge of putting together the computer report on racial makeup of the employees for the feds. I asked the Afro-American guy I worked with why there were so few blacks in the shop. He told me that his friends, relatives and neighbors were afraid to come to Charlestown to work because it was so dangerous for blacks there. Charlestown is one of the 3 towns that the Kennedy clan based their politics on. It is bad there. Not much better in other places. The metropolitan area had a plan to get promising black kids into the suburban schools. When the kids got off the train in the suburb until they got back on, someone was eying them the whole time. You could almost feel it.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Is it your position that today Southerners are more likely to discriminate than Northerners?"

Do you suppose Adegbile saw the irony intrensic in this question?

Lem said...

I got it – just keep checking the states that Obama didn’t carry until they are blue.

When the democrats carry all the red states then “we will be there” there. ;)

Balfegor said...

Good reasoning. Foreign's COOL as long as it's religious.

Yes. The obvious counter to Scalia's Sanhedrin cite is that the sins of the fathers are punished unto the seventh generation. If we count the first generation in the 1960s, we have an hundred years yet before legislated reverse racism can be fully eliminated!

I think yours is a unique experience. I have lived in South Carolina, Ohio, and New York, and in my experience, while racism is obviously present in all three states, it is still culturally acceptable in SC, especially among the older generations.

For the older generations, this is probably true, although racism is by no means confined to the Southern older generations. The only old person whom I've heard to use racial epithets in English ("wetback") is a woman who grew up in New Jersey and New York City.

Nor is racism among the non-elderly confined to the South. The LA riots also provide an example of violent and vicious anti-Asian (specifically anti-Korean) racism.

there was (and still is) de facto segregation in churches, neighborhoods, and the lunchrooms of public schools.

I cannot speak to churches, as I am a heathen, but in Southern California, there was a clear colour line in public school lunchrooms as recently as the 90s, when I was in highschool. Actually, I don't think we had lunchrooms per se -- if we did, I never ate there (I ate with the other nerds in the chemistry lab) -- but people congregated in particular areas or open classrooms to eat their lunch. I think residential segregation in Southern California is just as strong as anywhere. My impression of New York City was that there was pretty clear segregation there too, although that might have been because I was in Morningside, and the transition from Morningside to Harlem is especially sharp.

Zeb Quinn said...

We're still a 51-49 nation, regardless of which party happens to have the 51. Remember that when you talk about "overwhelming" numbers and "strong trends."

The point is the south is the backbone of Republican support. Even in the '08 elections all but Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia went Republican.

Henry said...

I once saw a crazy person shouting racial slurs in Battery Park. Another time in Rhode Island, I encountered a racist taxi driver. He claimed to have just moved from South Carolina.

Enough with the anecdotes. I am not a fan of Charles Murray's The Bell Curve -- he extrapolates where he should not and postures for attention -- but his basic premise is quite formidable: if the government is going to use statistics to justify policy, the government needs to know what constitutes deviation.

The exchanges about voter disparities in different states make it clear how muddled the statistical problem is. How can the remedy for Southern racism be considered effective if there's no concept of what that looks like in numbers?

What it looks like in human experience is both more obvious and less.

Cabbage said...

I suppose we will be told later that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.We will be told this. Just remind the chider that, while it might be a hobgoblin of sorts, quoting Emerson is the first sign of an intellectual con job.

Jeremy said...

Cedarford - this wikipedia list indicates that the Obama win was far less of a mopping than Johnson or Reagan enjoyed. It's not insignificant, but it's certainly not of historic proportions.

Zeb-
But even in Democratic CA conservatives managed to win Prop 8 and we still have a Rep. governor. As you note, FL, VA & NC all went blue. OTOH, Maine still has two popular (nominally) republican senators. My point is that there are no monoliths. In fact, Emmanual/Dean's entire strategy was based on the idea that there are no backbones - that you can affect overall change by tweaking the margins. A couple college kids here and a couple of minorities there and Montana is suddenly in play.

rocketeer67 said...

Enough with the anecdotes.I suppose I see your point, Henry, but seven years in SC, three in VA, and nearly nine in MA has provided me with more experiences than a nutter in Battery Park and a relocated redneck cabbie to draw from.

Contrary to the insipid pseudo-aphorism about the plural of anecdotes, if you plural them enough, you do have data.

Henry said...

It occurred to me that one way for Congress or the Supreme Court to decide that the South has changed is to count the number of people from the North who have moved there (though using Balfegor's seventh generation test would stretch the process out a bit).

Henry said...

Rocketeer -- true enough. My geography encompasses New York, Utah, California by proxy, and Rhode Island. That's a very different slice of the country.

traditionalguy said...

The 80 year southern tradition of segregation never hated black people. It just kept them in restricted areas. The feeling towards token numbers of blacks in the north and mid-west and far west was a surprising hostility towards the blacks as being a lazy and dangerous element.Today's southerners under 70 years of age actually treat blacks as equals. The Voting Rights game is a winner because it mandates a few totally safe 65%+ black Districts, which actually causes the dilution of Black votes in several more districts where it could have had a big influence.

Freeman Hunt said...

Only the South had issues during integration. See this about an attack on elementary school students:

Ellen Jackson, who ran a community center in Roxbury, described the scene as a bus of elementary school students returned home:

"When the kids came, everybody just broke out in tears and started crying. The kids were crying. They had glass in their hair. They were scared. And they were shivering and crying. Talking about they wanted to go home. We tried to gently usher them into the auditorium. And wipe off the little bit of bruises that they had. Small bruises and the dirt. Picked the glass out of their hair
."

More at the link.

All of that took place in the Southern city of Boston.

Zeb Quinn said...

But even in Democratic CA conservatives managed to win Prop 8 and we still have a Rep. governor.

Prop 8 passed because of the huge black voter turnout to vote for Obama, voters who voted for Prop 8 while they were there. And Arnold, while he started of reasonably conservative, after those propositions he was pushing went down to defeat in his first term he did an abrupt about-face, and has not governed or even talked anything like a conservative since.

My point is that there are no monoliths.

There may not be monoliths per se, but the south voting Republican pretty much as a bloc is the closest thing to it that we have in electoral politics these days. The overarching question that this answers is, what is motivating the Democrats in congress to perpetuate its heavy-handedness in intervening in elections in the south?

NKVD said...

Power.

Sofa King said...

[Justice Scalia] insists that the judgment of Congress is not to be trusted because when it came to reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, "they get elected under this system. Why should they take it away?" Oh. My. God. You mean legislators are self-interested!?! That must mean the court is free to substitute its judgment for that of Congress.

This is the kind of John Stewart reporting that is almost impossible to encounter. Ignore it, and it calcifies into "truth." Respond seriously, and you're an unfunny fuddy-duddy who doesn't "get it" and can't take a joke. Mock back, and you're a mean-spirited partisan who fails at being funny.

This kind of crap reporting is one of the reasons we have a one-party state.

Sofa King said...

That should be "counter" above, not "encounter."

Justin said...

The 80 year southern tradition of segregation never hated black people. It just kept them in restricted areas.You've got to be kidding. Seriously. You really think it was that benign?

Anonymous Blogger said...

Maybe the Voting Rights Act should be applied to the entire nation. That doesn't mean Congress can't act in a piecemeal fashion. This case is bogus.

traditionalguy said...

Justin... no one thought that segregation was benign. There was a fear of the uneducated black men produced by the abominable Slavery system. No one knew how to fix things. What would you have done? The dilemma needed massive education to fix things, but the South was Broke. It seems that the currency was worthless starting April 1865. The investors coming south to buy up everthing at 10 cents on the dollar wanted cheap labor to run their new Textile Mills. There were no Food Stamps or welfare. Everyone here worked like field hands until WW2. It was far from benign for anyone. Look up the freight Rate cases. The South was a colony of the North.

Henry said...

traditionalguy -- there was pretty profound fear of the educated black man as well.

Freder Frederson said...

The 80 year southern tradition of segregation never hated black people. It just kept them in restricted areas.

Then can you please explain the 5,000 plus lynchings that occurred during that time of proud tradition. I guess those were just love murders.

former law student said...

Prop 8 passed because of the huge black voter turnout to vote for Obama, voters who voted for Prop 8 while they were there. Prop 8 passed because of the huge turnout of weekly churchgoers (45% or those voting), who were 40 percentage points in favor of Prop 8. 70% of 45%(regular churchgoers) is far greater than 58% of 7% (black people).

former law student said...

Data at

http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/issues/egan_sherrill_prop8_1_6_09.pdf

Revenant said...

"I suppose we will be told later that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds".

We will be told this. Just remind the chider that, while it might be a hobgoblin of sorts, quoting Emerson is the first sign of an intellectual con job.

Especially when he gets the quote wrong. The actual quote is "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". The point isn't that only small-minded people are consistent, but that small-minded people consistently believe foolish things!

Revenant said...

Prop 8 passed because of the huge turnout of weekly churchgoers (45% or those voting), who were 40 percentage points in favor of Prop 8. 70% of 45%(regular churchgoers) is far greater than 58% of 7% (black people).

You're misreading that poll. 7% is the percentage of respondents to that poll that were black. Exit polls showed that 10% of voters were black, and over 70% supported proposition 8. Had no black people voted in 2008, Proposition 8 would have failed. A narrow majority of both white and Asian voters voted against proposition 8. It passed because substantial majorities of non-whites supported it.

You're correct to state that weekly churchgoers had a bigger impact -- had weekly churchgoers say out the election, it ALSO would not have passed. But it isn't either/or; it is true both that churchgoers were responsible for passing the measure and that blacks were. Also, don't forget that blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to BE weekly churchgoers than whites are! :)

Balfegor said...

Prop 8 passed because of the huge turnout of weekly churchgoers (45% or those voting), who were 40 percentage points in favor of Prop 8. 70% of 45%(regular churchgoers) is far greater than 58% of 7% (black people).

But neither 70% of 45% nor 58% of 7% is sufficient to get over the 50% mark. Both population groups (which overlap, incidentally) were essential for Prop 8 to pass. So it's true to say that Prop 8 passed because of churchgoers or Mormons, but it's also true to say it passed because of Black voters. These aren't mutually exclusive propositions.

Zeb Quinn said...

What Revenant said.

NKVD said...

Freder, you are as stupid as you are racist.

Many non-blacks were lynched, such as the two white men lynched in a park in downtown San Jose, California. Which, is in northern California. Which is not in the south. I explain that because you are too stupid and uneducated to understand, otherwise.

You are a wretched human being. Go back to your socialist utopia.

Eric said...

The Voting Rights game is a winner because it mandates a few totally safe 65%+ black Districts, which actually causes the dilution of Black votes in several more districts where it could have had a big influence.

Yeah. My understanding is as popular as the act is with Democrat rank-and-file, it costs them seats by setting up districts the way the Republicans would if they were in charge of drawing the lines. So there's your unanimous support in Congress - Democrats can't vote against it for fear of angering a major constituency, and Republicans don't vote against it because they benefit from implicit gerrymandering.

Justin said...

traditionalguy...

My only point was that the southern tradition of segregation did hate black people. Many white people in the south still do (including my uncle, who lives in Myrtle Beach, is under 40, and has pictures of Nascar drivers and Confederate generals on his wall).

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Many non-blacks were lynched, such as the two white men lynched in a park in downtown San Jose, California

Wow. That was interesting. I grew up in the San Jose area and never heard about this story. I'm old, but not THAT old..

However, there really is no comparison to the lynchings in the Reconstruction South. The San Jose lynching was in conjuction with a kidnapping case and didn't seem to involve racism.

Balfegor said...

Another note on the study that FLS has directed us to. If you sum the totals in the first table by race, we're left with only 96% (i.e. there are 4% other whose vote totals are not included), with a total percentage in favour of prop 8 of only 49%. To get to the actual result (52.24% in favour), we would need 80% of this "other" category to vote in favor of prop 8 (highly unlikely). Support figures are probably understated -- potentially to a signficant degree for teh smaller populations. Bumping the Black vote up to 70% does not resolve the issue, but given the particular differences between the CNN day-of poll results and this follow-up survey days or weeks later, it seems more likely that the Black vote in favour of Prop 8 is understated than that, say, the Hispanic vote is.

I'm inclined to credit the 70% figure that the exit polls came up with. Not sure how you would end up with a sample of 200 that diverged that far from actual -- that's more than you usually need for statistical significance, and there's really only one other survey (the post-election survey) that captures the same factual "how did you vote" information (as opposed to how do you intend to vote). Surveys are also usually concentrated in urban areas, and that's where the majority of the Black population live. Were liberal suburban Blacks undersampled? (possible, I suppose) The differences for some other populations are also pretty striking -- CNN found that 84% of weekly churchgoers voted for Prop 8. But the survey the study relies on only found 70% voted for it. CNN found that 53% of Latinos voted in favor of Prop 8, but the study survey found 59%.

On the other hand, contra Revenant, the 10% figure in the CNN sample is almost certainly overstated (to ensure they had statistical significance, I expect). Only 6.2% of the Californian population is Black, and while it's likely they were overrepresented in the voting population, I have difficulty believing Black voters were overrepresented that much. Voter age issues may skew the population somewhat (e.g. reducing the Hispanic proportion), but I don't see that it would have a huge effect on the proportion of Black voters.

rhhardin said...

Voters have to be able to control the government, is the idea.

When disparate treatment improves that control, then it's okay; when it works against control, then it's not.

The idea of voter control falls under equal protection.

Henry said...

NKVD, what the hell?

Do you have some kind of Northern Californian version of this?

In Anniston, Alabama, a mob attacked the Greyhound bus and slashed its tires. When the crippled bus had to stop several miles outside of town, it was firebombed by the mob chasing it in cars. As the bus burned, the mob held the doors shut, intent on burning the riders to death. An exploding fuel tank caused the mob to retreat, allowing the riders to escape the bus. The riders were viciously beaten as they fled the burning bus, and only warning shots fired into the air by highway patrolmen prevented the riders from being lynched.

veni vidi vici said...

"Dahlia Lithwick", while a superficially pretty name, also calls to mind the image of an old, cranky lady who smells of mothballs pee, living in a large, old and run-down house in the Hamptons.

This image always comes to mind when I hear her name, and the attitude of her writing does nothing to quell it (she's still young, after all). I don't ordinarily make it beyond the first few sentences of Lithwick's "work", if it can be called that.

She's a self-parodying, played out farce. Especially so for considering herself a "legal expert".

Revenant said...

It is not true that "many" white people were lynched, either in absolute numbers or in relative terms. Less than a third of the 4500 lynchings that took place in the 80 years prior to the Voting Rights Act were of white people.

What is more relevant is that virtually all of the lynchings of non-whites took place well before the Voting Rights Act passed. The highest rate of lynching was in the 1880s. By the 1930s it was extremely rare, and by the 1950s it was so rare that the few times it happened it was national news.

That being said, Freder is right to point out that anyone who thinks "the 80 year southern tradition of segregation never hated black people" is an ignorant fool. It is only towards the END of the Jim Crow era that it became more about tradition than hatred; that's why Southern culture was able to change as rapidly as it did during and after the 1960s.

Revenant said...

Do you have some kind of Northern Californian version of [the Freedom Ride incident]?

There were anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese riots from the late 19th century up to World War II. And, of course, the mass internment of the Japanese ranks up there.

In southern California, there was the Zoot Suit Riots.

Eric said...

Prop 8 passed because of the huge turnout of weekly churchgoers (45% or those voting).

That's just silly. I'll bet gay turnout was pretty high as well. You can't point to any one group and say "proposition x won because of them". There are a whole log of non-churchgoers who voted for it as well. There were a lot of people who voted for it because they didn't want the courts deciding the question.

NKVD said...

As usual, you miss the point. Freder claims that lynching only happens in the south. I pointed out that he is an ignorant socialist, and the response is - hey - look, there were lynchings in the south.

Tell me something I don't know. My father witnessed one in Mississippi in the 30s. He left, never went back.

Back to hating, you commie-loving democrats. And stay out of Iran - your beloved mullahs still lynch people there.

traditionalguy said...

I won't argue with the Hatred experts here. There are always people who will act hatefully towards any scapegoat that is weaker than they are. There are still some southern whites who talk bad about black people. But I am not lying when I report to you that most normal southern whites did not hate blacks in the 1900 to 1960 era. They were just not ready to buck the system and risk themselves defending the oppressed people who were stuck in the abusive system, until MLKjr shamed them into it 40 years ago. The same MLKjr couldnot get the favorable response to marches for equal rights in Chicago 40 years ago that he got in his hometown of Atlanta. The hearts of the southerners were easier to get to then because they did not hate the blacks.

Freeman Hunt said...

Note on my earlier Boston link: That happened in 1974. 74!

Ben (The Tiger) said...

I got a kick out of reading Lithwick go on and on against activist judges. Shoe's on the other foot now, ain't it?

I don't particularly care about the Voting Rights Act -- was necessary and wonderful in its time, and we seem to be keeping it around as a security blanket now, like frightened children.

Oh, and I've just learned that it helps elect more Republican congressmen.

So that's cool.

(I guess it's slightly insulting to our Southern brethren. For which I'm sorry. On the other hand, there were twenty or thirty years of free voting after the Civil War before Jim Crow stuff got enacted, so I can kinda see how some people are still a little paranoid about it.)

Revenant said...

But I am not lying when I report to you that most normal southern whites did not hate blacks in the 1900 to 1960 era. They were just not ready to buck the system and risk themselves defending the oppressed people who were stuck in the abusive system.

So despite the disgusting Jim Crow laws being opposed by "most" whites and the overwhelming majority of blacks, the laws stayed in place... under a democratic government... with secret ballots... for SIXTY YEARS... because most white people were not willing to "risk themselves"?

That's the story you want to stick with, is it?

veni vidi vici said...

That's "mothballs and pee", incidentally.

In case anyone could break themselves away from the compelling discussion of gay lynchings in the black community. Or something.

Oligonicella said...

I'm from Missouri, southern now, and never in my life have I experienced the open racial hatred I did when I contracted in Rhode Island and Chicago.

traditionalguy said...

Revenant...You are the self appointed Judge and Jury here today. I am trying to report honestly to you what I know from interactions here in the south with many and various persons alive since 1895. It is not an attempt to make up a story. You might read some Mark Twain ( Life on The Mississippi or Huck Finn )to verfy that the Feelings of most southerners to blacks was not hatred. Heck, they were mostly our secret cousins. True, discrimination based on ethnic heritage was done by governments everywhere, and still is in most places. Ever since the great melting pot heated up, first the Spanish, then French, then English, Dutch, German, Polish Africans, Iroquois tribal cofederation, Creeks, Choctaws, etc. have all had a turn at capturing and using the others, but later developed a respect and love for the men sharing the work loads together. I blame Washington, Jackson, Lincoln and Roosevelt for the vision that has brought us this far. Peace.

Kent said...

I think Thomas Sowell, in Black Rednecks and White Liberals, has made the case that lynching in the South reflected a tradition of extralegal punishment that originated long before there were free blacks and was not necessarily closely tied to enforcing white supremacy.

Revenant said...

Revenant...You are the self appointed Judge and Jury here today.

I don't need to be. Pre-60s Southern culture was tried and convicted years ago. :)

I am trying to report honestly to you what I know from interactions here in the south with many and various persons alive since 1895.

You aren't the only person here to have lived in the South and have regular interactions with its residents.

You might read some Mark Twain ( Life on The Mississippi or Huck Finn )to verfy that the Feelings of most southerners to blacks was not hatred.

Even if I agreed with your assertion that the Southern culture of those two books is not portrayed as hating blacks, they were written long before the 20th century and portray the antebellum South. Thus, neither is useful for supporting your claims about 1900-1960 Southern culture.

Plus, supporting your case by citing the portrayal of Southern culture in a fictional work (Huck Finn) is silly. All that tells you is how the author chose to portray the culture, not how the culture actually was.

JAL said...

Funny there are some folks here who haven't noticed that the United States has changed in some positive ways in the last 50 years.

I am a native NYer, Have lived in the South more than 30 years.

More interracial couple here.

Yes we have bigots.

So does the Northeast, Midwest, Northwest and Southwest.

My brother is one and he has never lived in the South. Now lives in CA, as a matter of fact.

We will not eradicate all racism and bigotry.

The assumption of the insane redistricting which goes on to guarantee that racial minorities get "representation" assumes a type of reverse racism that should be equally as unacceptable.

How this ties in to Voter Resigstration I don't know, but I suppose somewhere in some backwater someplace there might be a problem. No reason to keep a law from the 1960s in place if it is there to 'fix' a problem that does not exist.

Does it exist?

Ralph said...

...under a Democratic government

FIFY. They were all one-party states, so dissent was difficult.

B & W did live & work in closer proximity in the South, despite residential and school segregation. The towns were smaller, and black people worked (and sometimes lived) in white homes.

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Donna B. said...

Does a problem with voter registration exist in the South?

hmm... not where I live. I can't think of a single civil service office that is not staffed by at least as many black individuals as whites.

So, for blacks to be discriminated against in registering to vote and voting, blacks would have to do a substantial part of the discriminating.

Institutional segregation enforced by law is gone. It's dead.

Balfegor said...

So despite the disgusting Jim Crow laws being opposed by "most" whites and the overwhelming majority of blacks, the laws stayed in place... under a democratic government... with secret ballots... for SIXTY YEARS... because most white people were not willing to "risk themselves"?

I don't think segregation automatically implies hatred. In many universities today, there are segregated associations and orientations and so on for "people of colour" (the new "coloured people"), but it doesn't indicate that they hate Blacks, or even that they hate Whites (Whites being the ones excluded this time around) -- it's just that, for whatever reason, they think things are better that way. Maybe they worry about "stereotype threat" (i.e. the notion that Blacks perform badly when White people are watching them because it makes their race salient). Now, it's obvious that an awful lot of Southern Whites did hate Blacks. But I don't think it's the case that all supporters of segregation did -- many of them just thought racial mixing was disgusting (Loving v. Virginia and all that), and segregation followed naturally from that principle.

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