By Gordon Davis
I have been following my former friend from Holy Cross college (we were undergrads there), Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, since Justice Scalia’s death. Thomas voted on April 4, 2016, with the “liberal” Justices on the Supreme Court without comment. I believe that the individual can be redeemed and that Thomas is on the road to redemption.
On April 4, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that being registered to vote does not make us persons. As you know, the Supreme Court has the legal right under the Constitution to determine who among us are persons. In 1860s it said that freed Black people and their children are persons. Later in the 19th Century it said that corporations are people.
In this most recent case it ruled that people not registered to vote can continue to be persons.
A person is usually a human being. However in the USA it is what the Supreme Court says we are.
The recent case heard by the Supreme Court involved a challenge to the so called One Person One Vote principle found in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The number of persons has traditionally been determined by the U.S. Census, which takes place every 10 years. The states usually follow the U.S. Census when determining redistricting of state legislatures.
A right wing group, that some consider racist, in Texas challenged the constitutionality of using the U.S. Census to determine the number of persons and the One Person One Vote Principle. This group wanted a separate census in Texas based on voter registration.
As relatively more persons are registered to vote in the rural areas of the United States than in the urban areas the change sought by the right wing group would make the state legislatures more white and more rural.
However, it had other implications as well. It would mean that children would become non-persons as they could not be registered voters. It would mean permanent residents would be non-persons as they could not register to vote. Anyone who could not meet the difficult voter ID laws would be a non-person, too.
Fortunately for humanity, the Supreme Court without Scalia voted down the right wing challenge and took the road away from perdition.
The Supreme Court in a back-handed manner has affirmed that like corporations, children, immigrants and those of us who do not have a birth certificate or can afford a government ID are still persons.
As persons we (all residents of every American town, city and suburb) are entitled to representation by our state legislatures.
There is a message here for Worcester and Massachusetts which hold that only citizens can vote in an election. We should allow adult residents the right to vote. Adult residents could be able to vote in Worcester School Committee and Worcester City Council elections in Worcester – if there was a home rule petition allowing it.
The voting results of our November 2015 elections for Worcester School Committee suggest a need for residents, not just citizens, to vote in Worcester. The Worcester School Committee is entirely White, while the Worcester School District is majority Latino, Black and Asian.
In 2016 Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus, at the urging of a City Councillor, wrote a Home Rule Petition for the eviction of certain lesees. This petition lacked substance.
The Manager should now write another petition that allows residents of the City of Worcester to vote in City of Worcester elections. I hope he has the moral character to do so.