The Equality That Wasn’t EnoughRoundup
tags: Reconstruction, 15th Amendment, Radical Republicans
Jamelle Bouie, NY Times Opinion Columnist
Shortly after acquitting President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Senate Republicans moved to confirm two nominees for the federal judiciary. The first, 38-year-old Andrew Brasher, was elevated from a Federal District Court in Alabama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The second, Cory Wilson, is a 49-year-old state appellate judge in Mississippi. He’s being considered for a federal district judgeship in the state.
Like all Trump nominees, they are conservatives. But they stand out for their hostility to voting rights. In 2013, Brasher filed a brief in support of Shelby County, Ala., in Shelby County v. Holder. Congress, he wrote, did not have the power to reimpose the “burden” of federal election supervision, as it did in its 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. “It is not a necessary and appropriate exercise of federal power under the different conditions present today,” he added. The Supreme Court agreed, ending federal “pre-clearance” for new voting laws in several states and allowing new forms of voter suppression.
Wilson also took a dim view of election oversight in his state, calling instead for strict regulations on voting. The federal government, he wrote in a 2013 op-ed, “might spend less time chasing agendas that aren’t there and more time investigating the voter fraud and other irregularities.”
There’s an irony to the fact that it was these two nominees who were on the docket. This month is the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. The last of the three Reconstruction amendments, it gave black men the right to vote. It sparked a revolution and a backlash, as racist white politicians used loopholes in the amendment (as well as outright violence) to undermine and eliminate black political power in the 1870s and ’80s. By the end of the 19th century, the 15th Amendment was a dead letter throughout the South.
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