Nirvana Bassist Writes Scathing Article On SCOTUS Voting Rights Act Ruling

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 28, 2013


Krist Novoselic, best known as the bassist of Nirvana, has written a scathing article on the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on the Voting Rights Act that came down just a day or two ago. Read the full piece via Salon here and a snippet below after the jump. 

While the marriage equality decisions are rightly getting a lot of attention, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday striking down a section of the Voting Rights Act has raised concern among many, myself included, for what it means for minority representation in this country.

On Tuesday, a 5-4 decision struck down Section 4 of VRA, which determines which states are covered by Section 5, and which are not – meaning certain areas of the U.S. which previously had to submit changes to their voting rules to the Department of Justice for approval, now can pass laws without it. (However, that doesn’t mean people won’t be watching, so expect more lawsuits in the wake of new voter ID requirements, registration rules and reapportionment, among other voting issues.)

In writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said, “[racial] conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.” The crux of his opinion was that the coverage formula used in Section 4 to identify these conditions was 50 years out of date. Therefore, Justice Roberts lobbed a pass to Congress to develop a coverage formula using contemporary data.

I hope that our polarized and partisan Congress is up to the task. I paid attention to redistricting in 2011 and can tell you that GOP mapmakers know how to make the VRA work for them. Before this week’s ruling, the GOP committees that drew district maps in many Section 5 jurisdictions packed racial minorities in majority-minority districts. The creation of these VRA districts then takes the pressure off the blatant political gerrymanders in the rest of the state.

For example, In Alabama’s 7th congressional district, the African American Democrat won 76 percent of the vote. President Obama won a whopping 72% percent. Let me tell you why this is good for the GOP in congressional races: All those packed voters only won the Democrats a single seat. Under “winner-take-all” rules, even a hypothetical 100 percent voter turnout in a district still means winning one seat. This surplus of votes does nothing to help Democratic voters stuck in GOP districts in the rest of the state.

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