“… the Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making. Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA [Voting Rights Act]…
The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective. The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance [the requirement that certain states receive federal authorization before making changes to voting rules] is no longer needed…. With that belief, and the argument derived from it, history repeats itself…. In truth, the evolution of voting discrimination into more subtle second-generation barriers is powerful evidence that a remedy as effective as preclearance remains vital to protect minority voting rights and prevent backsliding.
Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes, is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
-Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013)
Justice Ginsburg, with whom Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan join, dissenting.
We at Reinvestment Fund mourn the death of the indomitable Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who made it her life’s work to dismantle and eradicate the practice of systematic discrimination against women, Black and brown people, and LGBTQ people. Never serving on a majority liberal bench, she is best known for her fierce dissenting opinions, as well as her persistence, tireless work, principles of equality and dedication to the Constitution. Her passing threatens many hard-won civil liberties, for which we all must persevere to fully secure. The ‘Notorious RBG’ stood her ground. Like her, we must not weaken in our resolve to achieve racial, gender, and economic justice for all Americans.
We work to advance equity and create opportunity so that the joy, creativity, skills, and solidarity within communities can be brought to bear on the challenges they face. We use our tools and resources to advance equity and reduce racial disparities that stem from discrimination and systemic racism – practices and systems that Justice Ginsburg fought hard to eliminate. And we strive to emulate her unrivaled ability to prevail despite adversity.
Justice Ginsburg embraced the power of dissent to bring about change, saying “Dissent speaks to a future age.” Dissent offers more than another perspective; it shows what is possible. It leaves a mark in history.
At Reinvestment Fund, we see dissent as necessary to create equitable, empowered communities. We “dissent” when we provide resources to sustain early child education facilities run by women in communities that lack adequate supply, when we provide financing to help formerly incarcerated people find good jobs, when we report publicly on the effects of eviction practices on families, when we partner with schools and HBCUs to support the education of a new generation of leaders, when we educate lawmakers about the importance of healthy food access for everyone, and when we provide funds to budding Black and brown entrepreneurs whose small businesses are in jeopardy of collapse due to the consequences of the COVID pandemic.
And we will continue to assert our power to seek and deliver change, with respect and aspiration for the acumen of those who came before and forged a path.
Her death on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and at the time of Shabbat bestow upon her the title tzaddik, “a person of great righteousness”. May her memory be a blessing.