Editorial: Here’s proof that minds can change

Clarence Thomas

Editorial: Here’s proof that minds can change
May 25
05:00 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court, with its newest, conservative justice on the job, again gave a victory to North Carolinians who are against unjust laws and restrictions. Last week, although on a technicality, the Court ruled that a lower court’s ruling against North Carolina’s infamous voter ID law should stand.

On Monday, the Court ruled 5-3 that two congressional districts in North Carolina were not right because race played too large a role in their creation in 2011 and the new creation that was designed in 2016 after a federal court ruling.

The justices ruled that Republicans who controlled the General Assembly and governor’s office in 2011 placed too many African-Americans in the two districts, Districts 1 and 12. The result was to weaken African-American voting strength elsewhere in North Carolina.

The eastern part of Forsyth County had been in District 12 before the legislature redrew districts in 2016. African-American Alma Adams is the representative there. Now the entire county is in District 5, which Virginia Foxx represents.

It’s unclear at this time what will happen regarding redistricting again. The majority ruling came from liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Bryer, Sonia Sotomayor and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

The really big news in the Court ruling is the side Justice Clarence Thomas is on.

This is the African-American man appointed by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to replace liberal Justice Thurgood Marshall. This is the man confirmed after a contentious confirmation hearing in which sexual harassment was alleged on his part. This is the man who began his career voting against the best interest of African-Americans.

This is the man who was depicted with a handkerchief tied in an Aunt Jemima style on his head on the cover of the now-defunct  African-American magazine Emerge in 1993 to show that he had “consistently ruled against minorities and civil rights advances following his 1991 confirmation to the court,” The Washington Post reported.

This is the man who voted with the conservative majority in 2013 when the court ruled that part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was no longer needed: the part that required some states to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department before laws governing voting rights were enacted.

What happened to Justice Clarence Thomas for him to vote with the liberal majority in ruling on Monday that the congressional districts should be struck down and redrawn to help voting rights in North Carolina?

We don’t know, but speculation is that he believes he has a new freedom to rule after ultra conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. That’s the only visible change on the court, except that Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed to serve on the court about a month ago. He has been touted as a conservative.

Thank you, Justice Thomas, for your vote with the majority that went against all that you had been voting for. Thank you for seeing the light.

The question is, though, is this a sea change or just a wave?

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