Civil rights icon ‘pained’ to hear Supreme Court justice on ‘the verge of some racist feeling’
Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon, blasted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday night.
He told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow he was “shocked” that Scalia said Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was renewed by Congress due to “a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
“I couldn’t believe that a member of the United States Supreme Court — it was just nonsense,” Lewis said. “It was almost the verge of some racist feeling of another period and it pained me to hear a member of the Supreme Court saying something like that. To protect the right to vote, to participate in the democratic process, you’re going to suggest that it is some racial entitlement? We all have a right to vote. We all have a right to participate in the democratic process. One person, one vote.”
Lewis said Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was still needed despite the decline of racism in the United States. The law requires the Justice Department or a federal court to preclear laws affecting voters in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination.
“It grew up in the South,” he explained. “I lived in the South. I tasted the bitter fruits of racism. I saw discrimination with my own eyes, I felt it. We’ve made progress, but we are not there yet. There are still methods and means, devices, that are being used to make it hard, to make it difficult for people to participate in the democratic process.”
Lewis said it wasn’t just African-Americans who faced troubles at the polling place. Youth, the elderly, students and Asian-Americans were being targeted as well.
“Some of these towns and communities in the South still represent the old South.”
Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below: