The gasp heard round the Supreme Court

Yesterday, one shocking statement spurred audible gasps in the Supreme Court. During oral arguments about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires historically discriminatory states and counties get federal approval before changing their voting laws, Justice Antonin Scalia described the key provision as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Maybe Justice Scalia is unaware that racial inequality still exists in our nation.

Perhaps Scalia doesn't realize voters in many minority districts waited up to nine hours to vote in the last election. Maybe it doesn't matter to him that African Americans still face an unemployment rate that's twice as high as whites. Or perhaps Justice Scalia isn't concerned about the income disparity between whites and people of color that a new study from Brandeis University recently pointed out.

Despite all the evidence of racial inequality, Justice Scalia instead made a racist comment about entitlements. Maybe all those statistics just don't matter to Antonin Scalia. His racially-charged statement alone clearly shows why the Voting Rights Act, and efforts like it, should be strengthened, not eliminated. Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, of The African American Ministers Leadership Council, spoke out against Scalia's statement, saying, “Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act doesn't represent the 'perpetuation of racial entitlement,' … Rather, it is one of the more important tools we have for confronting the entitlement of those who believe some people's votes and voices should matter more than others.”

Justice Scalia was right about one thing – we are all entitled to the right to vote. It's time our leaders fight to make every vote and every voice equal in our nation. They can do so by continuing to fight for equality and by expanding the Voting Rights Act to protect the vote of everyone in our nation.

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