Losses and Wins in Supreme Court: How Does It Affect You?
Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on June 27, 2013
All eyes have been on the Supreme Court this week, as it handed down decisions on the Voting Rights Act, Defense of Marriage Act, and California's Proposition 8.
- When we covered voting rights and voter registration and turnout last fall, it was relief to know that the Voting Rights Act was being used to strike down some of the most onerous restrictions on voting being proposed in places like Texas and Florida. Now that the list of places that require preclearance for rules that restrict voting has been overturned, those rules are already rearing their heads again. Brentin Mock, writing in Colorlines, notes that in theory Congress could make a new list based on places that have been trying to suppress the vote more recently. Whether that's likely is another story.
- Much of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and California's proposition 8 overturned, reinstating California same-sex couples' marriages, extending federal benefits to all same-sex couples married in a state that legally allows for it, and sending the decision about legality back to the states. While some queer activists noted that the marriage fight has distracted resources from urgent issues like LGBT homeless youth and anti-violence work, the decisions were widely hailed as major wins.
For those concerned with human rights and civil rights for everyone (and it's hard to understand how you can support them for just some people), it's been a complicated week to react to.
What is the fallout likely to be in the community development field? Many groups are likely to be dealing with decreased political clout through gerrymandering and attacks on voting rights. Mock, in a more detailed piece, notes that most of the effects of the Voting Rights Act changes will be on the local level, with multiple small changes it will be hard to keep up with fighting against.
On the other hand, many of our individual constituents will benefit from increased stability through federal recognition of their families.
I fear a possible uptick in tension between "winners" and "losers" (is it just me, or is hard to see the timing of this as coincidental, as it's such a perfect way to fracture progressives?). I think it's important to look for ways to both celebrate the wins and decry and fight the unacceptable losses. To skip either would be to do a serious disservice to our common humanity and commitment to equality.
(Photo of Supreme Court, CC BY-SA, Flickr user openDemocracy.)
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Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.