Noah Berlatsky Trump voters motivated by racism may be violating the Constitution. Can they be stopped? Republicans and Democrats alike have been unwilling to reprimand voters or to hold them accountable. But racist voting isn't an accident.
By Noah Berlatsky
If the Trump era has taught us anything, it's that large numbers of white people in the United States are motivated at least in part by racism in the voting booth.
Some politicians deny the evidence, no doubt because they don't want to alienate white voters, including prejudiced ones.
Other commentators try to parse whether Trump's racism will be a winning strategy in 2020. Terry Smith, a visiting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, offers a different response in his new book, "Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box."
Rather than excuse racist voters or try to figure out how to live with their choices, he argues that racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government, Smith says, has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.
This sounds radical. But Smith argues that it's in line with the Constitution and with years of court rulings.
For example, Smith points out that racist appeals in union elections are illegal and that an election in which one side uses racist appeals can be invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board.
Similarly, in the 2016 case Peña v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that when a juror expresses overt bigotry, the jury's verdict should be invalidated. ,,,
So how can you tell when voters are acting out of prejudice?
Again, Smith says, employment discrimination law provides a useful analogy. In discrimination cases, courts look for pretexts. If someone gives a reason for a hiring decision that is obviously false or makes little sense in context, the court has good reason to believe that prejudice or bias may have influenced the hiring decision.
Trump's unprecedented, compulsive, easily documented lying during the 2016 campaign made him an irrational choice. It's reasonable to conclude that voters were willing to swallow the falsehoods because they liked what they heard: overt racist appeals and incessant lies about rising crime rates. Research has since suggested that plenty of Trump voters were indeed strongly motivated by racist resentment and anti-immigrant animus.GO READ THE WHOLE THING.