In a speech before the Republican Justice League for a More Just America, Justice Scalia revealed some of the thinking in overturning key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The right to vote is not Constitutional Right,” Justice Scalia proclaimed. “Take a look at the original document – nowhere does it grant the right to vote. And when you look at the Bill of Rights, it’s not there either, although the right to bear arms is.”
“It’s not until we get to the Civil War amendments that the Constitution even mentions the right to vote. And there, it just says that the right to vote shall not be abridged on the account of former servitude.”
Scalia continued, “Now this is way, way after the founding fathers were long gone. If they truly felt so strong about the right to vote, they would have put it into the Constitution. But they didn’t. In fact, many of them felt that only white men who owned property should have the right to vote. That’s the founding fathers. That’s the original intent.”
“But now, what do we have? We cannot abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, sex, or anyone over the age of eighteen. And we can’t charge a pole tax. But we do take away the right to vote if you’ve been convicted of a felony.” Scalia paused to give one of his famous gestures. “And why can we do that? Because the right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Scalia went on to describe a host of ways the right to vote can be modified by statute. “It can be restricted to those who own property, like the founding fathers wanted. It can be based on having a Government approved ID. It could even be extended to Corporate Personhood. In fact, any legal entity created by statutes could be given the right to vote.”
In the Q & A that followed, Scalia indicated the Supreme Court might not even strike down giving Corporations the right to vote, but not Unions, as nothing in the Constitution prohibited discrimination on those grounds. Likewise, the Justice added, Churches could be given the right to vote, since to prohibit them from voting might be seen as an affront to the First Amendment.