This week the Supremes completely trashed 40 years of civil rights progress on ethnicity and voting, and then came out the next day and issued landmark extensions of civil rights for same sex couples. It’s a bit hard to tag how this fits, and no doubt the swing voters are the key people to understand, but much of the decision on eviscerating the Voting Rights Act swung on the issue of need. Empirically, the court was swayed by the argument that in the most virulently racist states, rates of voter registration have become relatively equal across racial groups (or, rather, for Blacks and Whites—nobody else seems to matter in this logic). Yet, in the real world, there is an active campaign by Republicans to limit voting, purge voter rolls, and make it harder for the poor, young, and especially minorities to vote. Moved in the last year?, you can’t vote. Didn’t renew your driver’s license (because you can’t afford a car or insurance)? you can’t vote. Never did drive or travel to need a passport? forget it. The Republicans are confident that they can dramatically impact elections by denying Americans the right to vote, and they have been heavily invested in this strategy for more than two decades. It’s hard to fathom how the court saw it as unnecessary, unless we think of it as a “states’ rights” issue, where the “wrong” is considered to be the additional scrutiny on racist Southern states. But, there is no racism in the South, is there? I mean, Mississippi outlawed slavery this year, there can’t be any racism. The GSS does show substantial racism in the Midwest, as well, maybe suggesting that we should EXPAND the region of scrutiny, rather than give states free reign.
Above you can see the chart by region of support for one of the most virulent forms of racism, opposition to interracial marriage. The Supreme Court “solved” that one in Loving v Virginia in 1967, but nonetheless many remain in disagreement. Unfortunately, the GSS has discontinued many items on things like this. Archane racist, sexist, xenophobic, and other hostile orientations are just no fun to track. Unless you understand that in SOME groups or places these opinions are preponderate. Indeed, in the very regions subject to additional scrutiny for voting issues, you can see that large pluralities–even in the 21st Century—disagree with Loving. Over 30% of respondents from the East South Central who are Republicans favor laws against interracial marriage, and 23% of non-Republicans admitted the same opinion to a NORC interviewer.