March 2, 2013

Massachusetts SOS miffed that John Roberts said Massachusetts has "the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout."

The Chief Justice was questioning  Solicitor General Donald Verrilli in the oral argument about the federal Voting Rights Act (which treats some states differently from others based on voting statistics from 1972). The Chief also pointed out that Mississippi has the "best" ratio.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin defends his state:
“It’s just disturbing that the chief justice of the United States would spew this kind of misinformation.... He’s wrong, and in fact what’s truly disturbing is not just the doctrinaire way he presented by the assertion, but when we went searching for an data that could substantiate what he was saying, the only thing we could find was a census survey pulled from 2010 … which speaks of noncitizen blacks...We have an immigrant population of black folks and many other folks. Mississippi has no noncitizen blacks, so to reach his conclusion, you have to rely on clearly flawed information.”

The 2010 tables show that Massachusetts does have a high discrepancy between turnout of white and black voters, but is in line with several other states, including Minnesota, Kansas and Washington, which actually has a wider ratio. The states are also similar on registration numbers. Additionally, the margin of error on each of these states’ data is over 10 percentage points, and many states on the list had populations of blacks so small, data wasn’t even available.
I'm sure the Chief was relying on something. Anyone know what it was? In any case, the basic point is intact: There's a disconnect between the problem the act seeks to rectify and the conditions among the states today. 

ADDED: Roberts was apparently referring to material in the dissenting opinion in the court below (the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals).  The underlying data is from the Census Bureau. Nina Totenberg having talked to "Census officials" who explain why their data is unreliable, writes an article that I critique here.

35 comments:

Big Mike said...

The truth really does suck if you're a liberal.

Roberts' point is straightforward; if one were to recalculate which states ought to come in for special attention in the 21st century, those states might not include the liberals' favorite whipping posts like Alabama and Mississippi and almost certainly would include various deep blue states like Massachusetts.

Hagar said...

States with substantial Black populations will also have voting districts gerrymandered to provide Black districts which results in one-party machine politics, in which there really is not much purpose in bothering to vote, except to show up to prove your loyalty to the machine.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with Big Mike. What we are talking about is maintaining federal (meaning Eric Holder) oversight of states that had voting discrimination some 40 years ago, based on nothing more than that, and that the DoJ likes having that control over the decennial redistricting, etc. in those state.

chrisnavin.com said...

Hey, I know people who've read Phyllis Wheatley AND got choked up at the 54th Massachusetts memorial.

edutcher said...

Like Lefties elsewhere, Massholes love black people.

In their place.

Surfed said...

It's said that in the Nawth you love the race but dislike the individual whereas here in the South we dislike the race but love the individual.

Bender said...

Boston has long been notoriously racist.

jacksonjay said...


As we all know, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act MUST not be changed! This is the rock solid position of PROGRESSIVES! It is logical in that nothing has changed since 1972!

Texas would never elect a woman or an Hispanic to serve in the Senate! Good old bubbas is what we like!

edutcher said...

Bender said...

Boston has long been notoriously racist.

As the busing riots proved.

PS the legendary 54th Massachusetts was, of course, manned mostly by non-Down Easters

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Surfed,

The version I know is that in the South, white people don't mind living among black folk, but can't abide them in positions of power, whereas Northern whites are perfectly happy with black folk in positions of power, so long as they don't move in next door. Seems about right to me, as a rough generalization. The South certainly doesn't have a patent on racism.

Philip Miles said...

Perhaps this? From the County's Reply Brief:

The national registration gap between non-Hispanic whites and blacks is 9.1%.
U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004
tbl. 4a., Reported Voting and Registration of the Total Voting-Age Population, by
Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin, for States, available at http://www.census.gov/
population/socdemo/voting/cps2004/tab04a.xls (“Census Report”). As the Census
Report shows, six fully-covered States fared better than the national average:
Alabama (2.0), Georgia (3.8), Louisiana (5.5), Mississippi (-2.5), South Carolina
(4.4), and Texas (5.2). Id. On the other hand, Massachusetts has a 26.7% gap. Id.

virgil xenophon said...

@Surfed/MDT

The way the old saying actually went was: "In the North they don't care how high blacks get as long as they don't get too close; in the South they don't care how close they get as long as they don't get too high.."

AprilApple said...

I'm miffed our system of voting is so obviously riddled with fraud and the left are holding us hostage. We can't fix it or we will be called "racists".

And the fraud has NOTHING to do with racism!

virgil xenophon said...

PS: And traditional residential housing patterns in New Orleans are a perfect example of this, btw..

Sorun said...

"Boston has long been notoriously racist."

But they make up for it by being so liberal.

Aridog said...

There's a disconnect between the problem the act seeks to rectify and the conditions among the states today.

This will not be a problem for our Chief Justice ... he will merely rule that ALL states have to comply with federal edicts vis a vis voting rights, no gerrymandering or other adjustments without federal permission.

By golly gee, if a state hasn't got enough of a protected minority to qualify for a normal protected district, then we'll just mandate one, even with just a population of 6, if necessary.

Roberts can do this without fear of being ignored or having to enforce the ruling himself.

Unlike the Federal Court and the NLRB. Pshaw. Pffft. Say what?

Basta! said...

Galvin: "Mississippi has NO non-citizen blacks."

Right. Can this guy even think. (Locally, he's known as Yoda).

I don't know what Roberts was relying on, but I would think it might be the same set of statistics from 1972 that the VRA is based on. If these numbers are considered still valid for justifying the VRA (which they're not), then one can't restrict someone from using them to argue against that law. If, of course, that's what Roberts was using.

Aridog said...

I wouldn't trust Chief Justice Roberts to piss downwind in a hurricane.

He's been trained and knows when to sit, heel and lie down.

Derek Brown said...

Re: the how close/ how high ditty


Except that Houson, Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis etc. all have had black mayors something that Boston has not and likely will not experience. Basically, the south thanks to the bitter medicine of bayonet enforced desegregation has solved its racial problems while the north has used demonization of the south as the means to paper over ever growing racial fissures. Yes, Deval Patrick but Doug Wilder was more than a decade before Patrick broke the northern governor color barrier. That seems even more troubling precisely because blacks aren't going to get elected governor in the south as democrats. The simple fact is the SWPl that increasingly controls liberal politics in the north is only going to let Obama clones near the reins of power going forward. The days of the Coleman Youngs if the world are over.

Philip Miles said...

Here is a link to an .xls of the 2004 numbers cited by the County in its Reply: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2004/tab04a.xls

rcocean said...

So Roberts should have said "among the worst"; instead of 'the worst' - cause Massachusetts is not THE WORST.

All righty then.

And given that Massachusetts has so much to be ashamed of (Ted Kennedy comes to mind) this seems rather small potatoes.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

virgil xenophon,

Thanks. Much pithier in the original.

Thers said...

Christ, you people are idiots.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/03/01/173276943/in-voting-rights-arguments-chief-justice-may-have-misconstrued-census-data?sc=tw

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Aridog,

This will not be a problem for our Chief Justice ... he will merely rule that ALL states have to comply with federal edicts vis a vis voting rights, no gerrymandering or other adjustments without federal permission.

Not a bad idea, actually. I don't mean it would be good to implement it, but it would certainly generate some push-back from states that haven't had to deal with this. I don't think the provision would survive long. It's the sort of thing that survives only so long as it's only other states are subjected to it.

rcocean said...

This is a perfect example as to why (1) TV camera's should not be allowed in the SCOTUS hearings and (2) why Thomas is smart to keep his mouth shut.

Does all this verbal blah, blah, really effect the WRITTEN decision that the 5 justices will make on the case? I doubt it. Its just Kabuki theater.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Thers,

So, in your estimation, the probability that MS' black turnout is at the absolute bottom of the margin of error, while MA's is at the absolute top, is what?

As "we people" are "idiots," please explain slowly, preferably in words of one syllable.

Bender said...

--"Boston has long been notoriously racist."
--But they make up for it by being so liberal


You're being redundant.

Aridog said...

The Supreme court will again write new or revisions to legislation from the bench, rather than just showing out trash when outdated and ridiculous.

The dainty supremes do NOT want to be ignored and the administration now has their Chief on his knees permanently...spouting semantic logical absurdities that would make Hayakawa and Johnson whirl in their graves.

Congress emasculated by virtue of no budget thus no appropriation oversight. the Court emasculated because they're afraid of being ignored, just like the lower court is now vis a vis the NLRB.

What does that leave us with?

Autocracy at best.

A Politburo next....?

rcocean said...

"Boston has long been notoriously racist.
--But they make up for it by being so liberal"

You don't understand liberals. They act racist while talking anti-racism. Its like 1930s USSR, you SAY you're for the 'Peasants and workers' while you're actually starving and working them to death.

rcocean said...

And like Stalin in the 1930s the dumb-clucks actually believe what they say and not what they do.

Its why Liberals rule America. They're smart and you're dumb.

Roadkill said...

So, can States directly affected by this law themselves sue the Federal Government under the equal protection clause? Vis-a-vis its non-applicability to other States?

Haley Murphy said...

I don't know what information the Chief Justice was using, but here is a book "The Triumph of Voting Rights in the South" on Amazon that goes state by state and does the statistical analysis. It finds that many northern states are worse in black voter turnout than in the South. It is terribly expensive, so probably not worth buying for this one SCOTUS case, but these guys testified in Congress during the last extension about this very issue and came up against the very political opposition to changing the law that you discuss in a later blog post.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Triumph-Voting-Rights-South/dp/0806140798/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1362269021&sr=8-3&keywords=keith+gaddie

Haley Murphy said...

I don't know what information the Chief Justice was using, but here is a book "The Triumph of Voting Rights in the South" on Amazon that goes state by state and does the statistical analysis. It finds that many northern states are worse in black voter turnout than in the South. It is terribly expensive, so probably not worth buying for this one SCOTUS case, but these guys testified in Congress during the last extension about this very issue and came up against the very political opposition to changing the law that you discuss in a later blog post.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Triumph-Voting-Rights-South/dp/0806140798/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1362269021&sr=8-3&keywords=keith+gaddie

tmitsss said...

Don't Appellate judges stick with the Record on Appeal for the facts. Did the Chief misrepresent the Record?

Thers said...

As "we people" are "idiots," please explain slowly, preferably in words of one syllable.

You do not get math you shit head.