Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Drug wars, Florida voting rights, and racism

In some precincts in Florida, half the black male population is not allowed to vote. Statewide, 30% of black males in Florida are not allowed to vote. If these men were allowed to vote, we'd be turning on our televisions to President Gore. Now, I hear you saying, "but how can that be? Didn't we pass a Voting Rights Act back in 1965 to enforce the right to vote granted by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution? Well, yes. But you see, there's a loophole: The "due process" clause of the 14th Amendment. If a judge and jury convict someone of a crime, it's fine to strip them of citizenship rights, because a) due process has happened, and b) it's not explicitly due to race.

Southern states during the apartheid era of government-enforced segregation ("Jim Crow") were quick to pick up on this loophole shortly after the passage of the 14th Amendment. They passed "Vagrancy codes" that basically made it illegal to be a black man in public. They could then station sheriff's deputies outside of polling places to arrest any black man who tried to vote and charge them with "vagrancy" and thereby legally strip them of the right to vote. These "vagrancy codes" have since been ruled by the Supremes to be unconstitutionally vague and overturned, but with President Richard Nixon's declaration of the "War on Drugs" in 1971, a new tool for use in the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" of pandering to racist whites was swiftly devised by states wishing to disenfranchise blacks: They could enforce the new drug laws, but primarily target blacks for enforcement. Thus while all surveys of drug usage find that the percentage of drug users is largely identical across all racial and socio-economic boundaries, in some Southern states a black cocaine user is seventeen times more likely to be arrested than a white cocaine user. Meanwhile, Rush Limpdick is still a free man despite scoring enough hillbilly heroin to croak a horse.

So the fact that Florida disproportionately disenfranchises black males under its law prohibiting felons from voting is not a bug in the law. It's a feature. It's what this law was designed to do from the beginning -- i.e., disenfranchise blacks. The notion that any American should not have the right to vote, regardless of conduct in the past, is reprehensible enough. The fact that the law is rigged so that one race is disproportionately affected by this stripping of the right to vote is just plain, well, evil.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin


  1. Ok, how about this, I'll be the first guy to holler about how many Americans of all races have died in Iraq, but until I watched CNN's Rick Sanchez the other night I had no idea that over 7,000 young Black men die in this country every fucking year!

    What the fuck,people?

    How can this happen in America and no-one is aware of it? Or should I say none of us of the lighter persuasion are aware of it, (because I can certainly assure you tha young Black men are aware of it! Shit, they have a better chance of survival with the Marines in Fallujah!

    What's that tell you about the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?


  2. Thank you for adding me to your blogroll, I'm honored.

  3. A few years back, when I lived in Fla. I invited a black co worker to a tupperware or some sort of party -at my home on a weekday evening. She laughed at me- told me if the cops saw her in my neighborhood at night, they would surely stop her- I was appalled that this sort of thing goes on in this day and age- we are woefully ignorant to what all black people go through on a daily basis..

  4. One of the amazing things about the voter "purge" lists that Florida keeps buying from ChoicePoint is the absence of Hispanic names in South Florida zip codes. If you look at these lists you would think that Hispanics are never arrested in this state.

    On the other hand, it is amazing the number of people named for the founding fathers that appear on the lists.

    If you have finished your entire sentence you can appeal to have your rights restored in Florida. Why they look at a couple of dozen cases for restoration every year.

    Actually the new governor is streamlining the restoration process, but the individual has to be aware of it and file the appropriate paperwork.

  5. This has been and continues to be a core nationwide strategy of the GOP. If you want to get an education, check out

    - The GOP systematically destroyed the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ, replacing people who actually understood voter disenfranchisement with party hacks like Hans von Spakovsky who worked to suppress minority voting.

    - Look at Bradley Schlozman.

    - They created the American Center for Voting Rights, a front organization that spread bogus stories of widespread voter fraud.

    - Look at the issues in Georgia, Indiana, Florida and South Dakota.

    The GOP has no interest in democracy and fair elections. They will do anything ... ANYTHING ... to win, including destruction of the DoJ. I guess if brown people don't vote GOP, they shouldn't be allowed to vote at all.


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