On Wednesday Stephane Hassel died at 95. Hassel was a remarkable man, French resistance fighter, survivor of the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dora, diplomat, and one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It was Hassel, who, at the age of 93 wrote the thirty-two page manifesto, "Time for Outrage", that inspired the Occupy movement in the U.S., Los Indignados in Spain, and protests throughout the world.
Hassel felt that his generation were not equipped to recognize evil quickly enough to stop the rise of the totalitarian regimes of the middle of the 20th century.
We however live in the age of free flowing information, almost nothing can go unnoticed for more than few hours, not even a statement by a justice of the Supreme Court. The moment it leaves their mouth it is twittered within seconds.
Coincidentally on the day of Hassel's death, just such a moment occurred. In an astounding exchange with Solicitor General Donald Virrilli, Justice Antonin Scalia suggest that a continuation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act represented a "perpetuation of racial entitlement."
This statement lead to audible gasps from those in attendance. As usual, like his ruling on Citizens United, Scalia got it all wrong, or better yet, upside down.
Protecting the voting rights of minorities and the disenfranchised is not perpetuating racial entitlement, it is guaranteeing the contract that the 1965 VRA made to protect the rights of those whose state governments seek to pass laws that would deny, or impede their exercising this franchise.
Scalia has cemented his place in history next to Chief Justice Roger Taney who presided over the Dred Scott case, as among the two worst justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court.
One thing is for sure, should Sect. 5 be struck down, conservative legislatures in states that the VRA applies to will immediately move to pass laws to marginalize the vote of every citizen who does not hold to their ideology.
Ronald Reagan was once asked how he came up with a conservative like Scalia, and he said he got the idea one weekend in October while turning the clocks back.