Comedian Bill Maher took an unusual stand against the Voting Rights Act during his show last night. He argued with a panel that instead of helping minorities, the VRA might be hurting the country if it redistricts and allows “crazy right-winger Republicans” to get elected to Congress.
Panelist Gavin Newsom challenge Maher, arguing that there’s still a lot of antipathy and racial tension in the United States, and that minority groups need the protections given by the Voting Rights Act.
But Maher countered that “maybe the Voting Rights Act is not helping minorities,” because by re-drawing district lines to give minorities an advantage (also known as “gerrymandering”) they have also allowed for “lily white districts where you could have crazy right-winger Republicans get elected.”
But Newsom said that because the Supreme Court is arguing about racial entitlements is enough justification to keep the Voting Rights Act in place.
He also brought up voter ID laws being implemented in a number of states over the past several years, confused by the apparent desire to “turn back the clock” on voting rights.
Monica Mehta concluded that it was ridiculous to think that racism no longer exists in the United States, saying that she has personally been the subject of random security checks at the airport. Maher responded that that’s racism combined with ignorance.
The Voting Rights Act has been a source of controversy ever since its original implementation in 1965 under President L.B. Johnson. Though overall considered a landmark piece of legislation regarding civil rights, it has been criticized through the years (albeit for evolving reasons).
CBS reports that the Supreme Court is currently debating the legislation to decide whether the law’s methods are still constitutional after 50 years of implementation.
Here’s video of Bill Maher debating the Voting Rights Act with his panel, via Mediaite: