Jon Stewart’s guest on Tuesday's “Daily Show” was Sandra Day O’Connor, so it makes sense that prior to talking to the retired Supreme Court justice Stewart did a segment on a big case now in front of the High Court.
Shelby County, Ala., has challenged the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires Justice Department or federal court approval for changes to the voting practices and procedures in states that had done their best to prevent African Americans from voting.
“The America that elected Barack Obama,” said Edward Blum, the advocate for Shelby County, “is not the America of our parents and grandparents.”
“It’s a completely different America!" said Stewart, waving his hands around excitedly. "We got cell phones now, and things cost more than a nickel.”
Stewart went on to point out that the county’s argument seems to be “since America elected a black man, therefore we are now free of racism.” Oh, but hold on a minute: 77 percent of the county voted for Mitt Romney. So according to that logic ... Anyway.
Stewart reminded his audience that Texas and South Carolina tried to pass voter-identification laws during the last presidential election. So the Voting Rights Act is perhaps not as outdated as Shelby County suggests?
Oh, and remember when the Senate took up the issue in 2006? The vote to renew the Voting Rights Act was 98-0. A unanimous vote. “Is that even allowed in the Senate anymore?” said Stewart.
So the legislation is now in front of the Supreme Court. And what do the justices have to say about it? Well, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, “Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the south are more racist than citizens in the north?”
“No,” said Stewart, “we’ve been to Boston. Oh, and my grandparents’ house.” But the issue isn’t personal racism, Stewart said; it’s about institutional discrimination.
Only last year Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin put in place voter-ID measures, which by default discriminate against minorities and the poor. If anything, Stewart implied, the Voting Rights Act should be expanded.
Watch the clip here, courtesy of Comedy Central: