Earlier today, the Center for American Progress released Voter Suppression 101, a report documenting conservative efforts to disenfranchise voters through state restrictions on voting. At a press call accompanying the release, former Civil Rights Movement leader and current Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) was asked for his personal feelings on seeing another wave of voter disenfranchisement after he fought so hard to end Jim Crow. His response was grim:
I cannot remember — even sitting in an Orangeburg County jail — when I had as much anxiety as I’m experiencing today. Back then, even when we were at the back of the bus and we were not able to sit down at lunch counters, we really felt strong that what’s happening to me here in Orangeburg, SC or Columbia, SC, ah, if I can get my plight before the United States Supreme Court, the promise of this country will be delivered for me. That’s what we felt, and I can remember our discussions in meetings — yeah, we’re going to jail now. We are going to be convicted. But we know that that conviction is going to be overturned by the United States Supreme Court.
I don’t feel that today.
Sadly, Clyburn is right to be anxious. When the first voter ID law came before the Supreme Court four years ago, the Court completely abdicated its responsibility to strike them down — despite the fact that they were only able to find one example of in-person voter fraud in the last 140 years that would have been prevented by a voter ID law. Four years before that, the Court’s conservatives abdicated its responsibility to strike down partisan gerrymandering of Congress and state legislatures. Yet, when George W. Bush saw the presidency slipping out of his fingertips, the Court’s conservatives suddenly deemed that to be a massive constitutional violation worthy of their attention.