As if Native Americans in this country haven’t already suffered enough, their plight was taken to a new level of absurdity by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) a couple days ago:
“The high court on Tuesday, Oct. 9, responding to an emergency appeal, released a decision on a 6-2 vote that will allow the state to require a residential address on a driver’s license or ID card to vote and won’t accept a post office box except with supplemental proof of a residential address.”
Other ‘Red’ states have now been handed a virtual ‘green light’ by SCOTUS to use this voter suppression precedent obstacle against their own minority populations, including Native Americans.
In April, 2017, North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum, signed House Bill 1369 into law.
A provision of the law is that a current ‘residential address’ must be shown along with proper photo ID in order to cast a vote.
September 27, 2018 a group of Native Americans, through Native American Rights Fund (NARF), filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court:
NARF Executive Director John Echohawk stated:
“Thousands of Native American (and non-Native) voters lack an address or a qualifying voter ID under the new law.”
SCOTUS apparently didn’t care.
There were only two dissenting votes; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan.
The newest addition to SCOTUS, Justice Kavanaugh, did not participate in this ruling, but where were Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer in this?
I get that the more conservative justices’ votes fell where they did. But Sotomayor and Stephens voting in favor of this blatant attempt to suppress Native American votes?! Seriously?!
To add insult to injury, according to Mother Jones this ruling could cost a Democrat her seat in the U.S. Senate:
“The Supreme Court’s order will likely make it harder for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, considered the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, to retain her seat in November.”
Was that by design?
Heitkamp’s opponent in this race, Congressman Kevin Cramer, had a bit of a run-in with Native American Tribal representatives in North Dakota back in 2013:
Granted, Cramer kinda sorta apologized for his remarks, but appeared to double down on them by saying they were “misunderstood”, not necessarily that they were wrong.
Heitkamp won her last election by less than 3000 votes with heavy support from Native Americans.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, without the North Dakota Native American vote, Heitkamp’s tenure as a U.S. Senator may well come to an end.
Connecting the voter suppression dots between a Cramer ‘win’ and Native Americans being effectively denied their right to vote isn’t rocket science either.
The ruling is in.
The die is cast.
SCOTUS has spoken albeit in a less than empathetic manner to the plight of Native Americans everywhere.
Anyone with knowledge of life on a reservation knows how difficult any countermeasures will be especially given the rural nature of those reservations and the absence of residential street addresses in those rural areas.
At least one organization is fighting back:
Their efforts illustrate there are ways to legally get around SCOTUS’ ruling however difficult they may be.
My question is why should these kinds of efforts be necessary in the first place?
Native Americans were granted full citizenship June 2, 1924.
Even so, up until 1957 “some states barred Native Americans from voting.”
With their ruling, SCOTUS is, for all intents and purposes, taking things back to 1957 by allowing states to legally make it as difficult as possible for Native Americans to exercise their right to vote as U.S. citizens.
This SCOTUS ruling should have been a no-brainer in favor of an already persecuted and long suffering segment of this nation’s population. Instead, it’s made things degrees of magnitude more difficult.
I’m left shaking my head in disgust over this one.
My two cents.
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