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Lecture 12

HIST 351 Lecture 12: 3-16-2017 Democracy

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HIST 351
Leonard Moore

Democracy Post 1965 Voting Rights Early Breakthroughs -Come from courts, support from executive branch, and legislation -Emerged from direct action movement Supreme Court Cases -Established the principle of “one man one vote” -Did ballots have equal meaning or not? -Early cases were based on the idea that in state legislatures there were gerrymandered districts that did not respect this principle -If each county got one representative, large populated counties got one vote while rural counties got one as well -Way to combat civil rights reforms by keeping Whites in control -Vermont was one of the most flawed systems -Run by smaller counties -Vote dilution: Power of the vote doesn’t count as much -This led to these decisions, which mostly ended up impacting the South Vote Dilution Continues/Challenging Progress -Starting in 2000, voter suppression increased -Southern states file lawsuits against the VRA right when it passes as an. “unconstitutional step” -Shows the persistence of the White political class in the South -Southern states reverted to time honored tactics -Went for legal discrimination to affect the weight of individual votes, even if they couldn’t prevent folks from voting -Decided that offices like judgeships and sheriff spots that had been elected would be appointed by the state legislature -Thus, because of White control, whoever they wanted to appoint could be put there -Counties in the Black belt of MS and AL couldn’t elect their own Black officials, but had White officials imposed on them -Used at-large schemes -Got rid of representative districts -Did this under the name of democracy because folks would “represent the whole city” -However, it drowned out any minority voices, giving a big advantage to White majority if it exists -Also used in the late 19 century -Also gerrymandering -Relatively straightforward form of discrimination Challenging This th th -Civil rights organizations begin to sue under the 14 and 15 amendments -Some schemes are halted depending on partisan power Mobile v. Bolden (1980) -Mobile had an at large city council system, which resulted in Black voters getting no city council representation -At large schemes could be used in combination with others -Really establishes the argument of “it’s just politics” -Even if voting occurs powerfully along racial lines (which had to be proven by activists) -Claim that because everybody votes it’s fair automatically -Judge said they had to actually show proof of “racial animus” in voting systems -Went to Supreme Court, and they found for the city of Mobile, and against the idea of dilution -These schemes, which are entrenched by this case, have begun to attack and undermine Black progress -Draws attention to issues of vote dilution VRA Renewing -Had to be renewed in 1982 -Reagan Justice Dept was looking to change it in order to uphold the Bolden decision -One of the most aggressive at pursuing this was current Chief Justice John Roberts -Had already become relatively entrenched as a great piece of legislation -Hard to take it on head on -Many congressmen did not want to pursue Justice Dept conservative reforms -Reagan caved in and agreed to sign Congress’ reauthorization -Renewed with the Bolden case in mind Progress Again -Challenging perspective said that if the impacts were discriminatory, that it needed VRA review -Led to a barrage of lawsuits Indiana -Indianapolis is in Marion County in the middle -Gary Indiana elected a Black mayor in 1968, so did Cleveland OH -A Republican won the mayoral election (good ole Richard Lugar) in Indianapolis as the Black population grew near majority -White working class Democrats voted for the GOP -Republican state legislature decided to use this to prevent Democratic control -Combined Indianapolis with Marion county’s suburban Republican communities -Combined city-county government with redrawn districts -Broke up the Black population to prevent victories -Added at large seats for fun -Government was transformed -Said to be more efficient for service provision -Suburban school districts stayed the way they were -Calls arose for fairer district lines Los Angeles -Largest county (one of them) -County board of supervisors ran various aspects of life outside the city -5 people on the board run the coun
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