After Section 5

July 2, 2013

I spent last week on a rural island in Wisconsin, where the Century was cosponsoring the Wisconsin Council of Churches' annual summer forum. It was a great event. It was also a pretty momentous news week, and there I was away from the office and mostly offline.

Since returning I've been taken aback by just how much more ink the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act decision has gotten than its Voting Rights Act decision. I don't want to compare the relative urgency of marriage equality and voting rights. Suffice it to say that equality had a mixed week, not a great one.

I spent an hour writing up a post, however belated, about Justice Ginsburg's dissent in the VRA decision, which I finally got around to reading. Then Chrome ate my post before I published it. So I installed Lazarus, which you should do too if you do a lot of writing directly in webforms. And now I'll just link to Ginsburg, in case others haven't read it yet, either. You should. It's not angry and condescending and obscurely slangy like a Scalia dissent, but it's filled with righteous fire.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was working. The Justice Department knew it, Congress knew it, and the people (still) fighting racial discrimination at the polls sure as hell knew it. I'm glad the Court struck down DOMA, but it's hard to give Justice Kennedy—who per usual joined both 5-4 majorities—an enthusiastic pat on the back for doing the right thing the day after doing something so dreadfully wrong.

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