Last week in the oral arguments for Shelby County vs. Holder, which will decide the constitutionality Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Antonin Scalia stated that the relevant codicil contributes to the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” It was clear that Scalia was referring to the fact that certain privileges Section 5 provides, such as gerrymandered majority-minority districts, make the politics of considering the bill in Congress contentious and distorted. An honest observer would have to concede that this process, whether or not you agree with it, does constitute an entitlement of sorts. He was obviously not suggesting that voting itself is an entitlement. But liberals are now banding together to accuse Scalia of saying that the right to vote is an entitlement.
Behold, the meme emerges:
Amy Davidson: “Protection against discrimination, it would seem, now counts as an entitlement—a loaded word these days. The notion that everyone is harmed, and our system is corrupted, if any group is denied the vote seems to be missing.”
Leonard Pitts: “A law protecting the voting rights of a historically disenfranchised minority is a ‘racial entitlement?’ Equality is a government program? Lord, have mercy.”
Melissa Harris Perry: “Contrary to what [Scalia is] suggesting, the Voting Right Act was no gift given by the government to black people. Its primary purpose was to enforce a right that was already enshrined in the Constitution but had been repeatedly flouted by Southern governments.”
John Lewis: “It is an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for, what people died for, what people bled for, and those of us who marched across that bridge 48 years ago. . . . We wanted to open up the political process and let all of the people come in, and it didn’t matter whether they were black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American.”
Ben Jealous: “The protection of the right to vote is an American entitlement. It is a democratic entitlement.”
Touré: “Is fairness a racial entitlement? Is protecting people’s right to vote a racial entitlement?”
Ian Millhiser: If [Scalia] were looking to confirm every suspicion that conservative opposition to the law that broke the back of Jim Crow voter exclusions is rooted in white racial resentment, he could hardly have picked a better way to do so.”
Jim Mitchell: “What annoys me is his equating a basic citizenship right — the right to vote in a free and fair election — to ‘a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement’ and his ensuing politcal soliloquy.”
You get the idea . . .