Yes, this could easily be a headline from the Babylon Bee. No, it’s not a parody.
If you are reading this and plan on voting for President Trump, you may be breaking the law according to NBC News. Go lawyer up I guess.
“Racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.” ?https://t.co/JKvWhNvkOH
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) January 17, 2020
We’ll get into the legalities in a second, but even on the surface, you’ll be shocked to learn that “racist” voting constitutes basically everyone who voted for Trump according to the standards laid out in the article.
The author then goes on to list a bunch of misleading, out of context charges (such as the “Mexicans are all rapists” misrepresentation) to make his point that most of the white people who voted for Trump are at least partially motivated by deep racism.
So what’s the reasoning behind the idea that Trump voters have committed an unconstitutional offense by voting for him? The editorial relies on the “legal opinion” of someone named Terry Smith, who stereotypically teaches at a law school in Balitmore. Here’s what he has to say.
This sounds radical. But Smith argues that it’s in line with the Constitution and with years of court rulings. For example, Smith points out that racist appeals in union elections are illegal and that an election in which one side uses racist appeals can be invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board. Similarly, in the 2016 case Peña v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that when a juror expresses overt bigotry, the jury’s verdict should be invalidated.
“When voters go to the booth, they’re not expressing a mere personal preference,” Smith told me. According to Smith, voters who pull the levers to harm black people are violating the Constitution. If the Constitution means that overt racist appeals undermine the legality of union elections, it stands to reason that they undermine the legality of other elections, as well.
Indeed, it does sound radical because it’s an absolutely insane assertion. If you are going to make a constitutional argument, citing a study that makes an awful constitutional argument is not how to do it (his conclusion of unconstitutionality comes from a Princeton study he links too). Yet, that’s what Smith does without even a hint that his claim isn’t actually proven to be factual. Further, it’s clearly a violation of the 1st Amendment for the government to suppress the votes of someone people based on what they think or say.
But wait, there’s more. Smith even has ideas of how to target people for their supposed racist voting.
So how can you tell when voters are acting out of prejudice? Again, Smith says, employment discrimination law provides a useful analogy. In discrimination cases, courts look for pretexts. If someone gives a reason for a hiring decision that is obviously false or makes little sense in context, the court has good reason to believe that prejudice or bias may have influenced the hiring decision.
Trump’s unprecedented, compulsive, easily documented lying during the 2016 campaign made him an irrational choice. It’s reasonable to conclude that voters were willing to swallow the falsehoods because they liked what they heard: overt racist appeals and incessant lies about rising crime rates. Research has since suggested that plenty of Trump voters were indeed strongly motivated by racist resentment and anti-immigrant animus.
In other words, anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, and if they give reasons to the contrary, they must be lying because the only reason to ever vote for Trump is racism.
Smith goes on to suggest censure and fines for voting for Trump, but concedes those aren’t really enforceable. He also bats around the idea of nullifying elections, but again says that’s not really doable. At least he’s realistic, right?
Eventually, he arrives at some other ideas, such as creating “Senate districts” in order to weight the black vote higher than the white vote in the south.
Even more ambitiously, Smith suggests expanding the Voting Rights Act to address the racist patterns of voting in Senate elections in the South. Because the majority of white voters in the South vote Republican, and because they outnumber black voters, there isn’t a single Democratic senator from the Deep South other than Doug Jones in Alabama, who may well lose his seat in 2020. Smith argues that we could remedy these disparate, racially motivated outcomes by creating Senate districts. Presumably, that would make it at least possible for black voters to elect a senator who would support their interests.
This is clearly a very controversial proposal, and its constitutionality has been debated in the past. But given obvious disparities in representation in the South, it seems worth considering again.
It’s apparently been lost on Smith (or not so lost, as it’s possible he’s just a massive racist hypocrite) that there are places throughout the country where minority voters continually put Democrats into office that some may not feel represent their interests. Should they have their voting power artificially stripped away as well? I certainly don’t think so, but according to Smith, if you are white and voted for Trump, the system should make it impossible for you to gain the representatives of your choice. Smith ends by suggesting that Democrats packing the courts, because of course he does.
I’m gonna stop there because my brain can’t take anymore. The idea of disenfranchising voters over false charges of racism is vile, fascistic garbage at the highest level. The fact that NBC News actually published this article is more evidence that these legacy news outlets are not vital, needed parts of our discourse. They are awful institutions that perpetuate division and we’d all be better off if they went bankrupt tomorrow.
These suggestions by Smith (and the author of the NBC News piece) are something you’d expect to hear in mid-30s Germany as a way to target Jews. It’s literally handing government the power to judge thought crimes and change the results of an elections in response. It represents the lowest, most dangerous form of racial politics, where anything goes as long as it meets the goals of a one side. The rate at which these kinds of inter-sectional, racial ideas have become common place in higher education is actually scary.
NBC News should be ashamed for putting out this racist trash as a legitimate opinion piece.