Opinion: 160 years later, the South fights on

Credit: Mike Haskey

Credit: Mike Haskey

Republicans in Congress have loudly denounced recent efforts by Democrats to create new ethics rules for the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming it will undermine the legitimacy of the highest court in the land.

But the GOP has been dead silent as Republicans in Alabama have done their best to undermine the legitimacy of the High Court by ignoring a direct order from the Justices to draw two Black majority districts for Congress in the Yellowhammer State — one more than it has now.

“The Legislature knows our state, our people and our districts better than the federal courts or activist groups,” said a defiant Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), just over 60 years after Gov. George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa.

This court fight over the Voting Rights Act and redistricting has already ricocheted into Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina, and could lead to orders for more southern states to redraw their districts in Congress.

“Alabama was ordered to draw two majority Black congressional districts,” said Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias. “It failed to do so.”

While that was playing out in Montgomery, Congress was being asked to restore the Confederate names on a series of U.S. military installations.

Bases in Georgia like Fort Benning — now called Fort Moore — have already moved on. But earlier this month, 177 U.S. House Republicans voted to go back to the original Confederate names.

In debate, U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., bemoaned the removal of Confederate statues along Monument Avenue in Richmond — the Capital of the South — which Good said had been ‘desecrated.’

Joined by U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, backers tried to force another vote this week in the House on the Confederate names, but failed.

Still, the GOP resistance continues. A military construction bill specifically funds projects at Fort Bragg and Fort Hood — even though they don’t exist. Those bases are now called Fort Liberty and Fort Cavazos, but Republicans evidently can’t bear to use the post-Confederate names.

The debates in Montgomery and Washington, D.C. were also a reminder that Georgia still has a statue of the Vice President of the Confederacy on display in the U.S. Capitol.

Georgia’s Alexander Hamilton Stephens is best remembered for a speech in which he argued ‘the negro is not equal to the white man.’

It’s hard to believe the Georgia General Assembly has no one else to offer — a musician, educator, military hero — maybe baseball great Hank Aaron — someone who isn’t a Confederate leader.

But instead of moving forward, the Party of Lincoln keeps fighting to preserve the Confederate past.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com