From the Left



Hypocrisy On Parade: Praising John Lewis While Ruining His Life’s Work

Dick Polman on

Such was the law of the land - until 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. The Republican appointees erased the Justice Department’s enforcement powers, insisting that such oversight was no longer needed. John Roberts declared (in one of the most hilarious lines of 2013) that racial disenfranchisement “is no longer the problem it once was.” And Antonin Scalia called it “a perpetuation of racial entitlement.”. John Lewis told a reporter that Scalia’s remark made him want to cry.

Sure enough, soon after the high court gutted the Voting Rights Act, vote-suppressing Republican states sprang into action. Texas and North Carolina enacted strict photo ID requirements aimed at low-income minorities. Georgia launched a voter purge and closed polling sites to make it harder for minorities to vote. Nationwide, roughly 1,700 polling sites have been shuttered.

But Chief Justice Roberts had given Congress a wee bit of wiggle room: lawmakers could find a way to revise and update the Voting Rights Act - enabling the Justice Department to stop voter suppression without picking on the southern states so much - then, yes, it could live on. That’s precisely what Lewis was trying to do, with his Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Alas, Mitch McConnell - for all his high-flown rhetoric about Lewis bending the arc of justice - has consistently refused to lift a finger for voting rights.

That’s ironic, because when the Voting Rights Act was up for renewal back in 2006, the Republican House and the Republican Senate passed it overwhelmingly…with a thumbs-up from McConnell. Their reasoning: “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination…and to ensure that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.”

But that was so 14 years ago. Today’s Republicans are tethered to an openly racist president who’s terrified that equal ballot access will doom in November. Today’s Republicans pay lip service to John Lewis, and thwart him with their deeds. Today’s Republicans, in the words of Eric Holder, “wrap themselves in the Constitution while gutting its protections.”


Unless or until these hypocrites are driven from power, John Lewis’ life work will remain unfulfilled.


Copyright 2020 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at

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