"I don't battle anymore! I uplift motherfuckers!" - GZA
Thursday, March 30, 2006,9:30 AM
The State of Civil Rights
by The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Retired) Senior Counsel

The state of civil rights in America is most precarious. This should come as no surprise to the civil rights advocates who have been manning the

The warning signs have been many. The most ominous warning came from the late Justice Thurgood Marshall in the final dissenting opinion he wrote before retiring from the Supreme Court. One need only look at subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court on civil rights remedies, and in cases that impact on the rights of minorities and the poor, to know that Justice Marshall’s warning is coming to pass. Moreover, events surrounding the 2000 and 2004 presidential and congressional elections, followed by the way in which the federal judicial nominating process has been manipulated, have proven Justice Marshall prescient.

Voting rights are at the core of the people’s right of self-determination. When that ability is impaired, the officials who do get elected frequently dismiss or are deaf to the pleas of racial minorities. A recent example of this took place in the cynical way United States Senators turned a deaf ear to the protests raised by black and minority voters over Supreme Court nominees. Sadly, some Senators allowed their political partisanship and electoral cowardice to override their solemn duty.

This was a classic instance of non-accountability that cries out for a renewal and expansion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. There is a daunting fear that as a result of the way federal judicial nominations were made and the confirmation process was conducted, the ability of civil rights advocates to continue relying
upon the federal courts to define and enforce remedies may have been seriously undercut.

Those who relied upon the jurisprudence developed and refined by Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, William H. Hastie, and the civil rights bills enacted under the leadership of Clarence Mitchell, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Joseph Rauh and others, must be eternally vigilant and work to arouse the nation to the peril that confronts civil rights.

As Justice Marshall warned,“scores of established constitutional liberties are now ripe for reconsideration.” What was true when he wrote this is now, with the Supreme Court changed, even more true.
posted by R J Noriega
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