Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., suggested that the United States Supreme Court is participating in a racist "right-wing conspiracy" to restore Jim Crow-era laws to disenfranchise black Americans.
"There is a right-wing conspiracy that is alive and well in this country that is trying to take us back to 1900, and even before," Butterfield, second vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), told black pastors at a CBC event on voter ID laws today. Butterfield had just explained that 1900 was the year Southern states enacted poll taxes and literacy tests in order to disenfranchise black voters and thus defeat black elected officials. "They are coming in very discreet ways," he warned.
Butterfield cited a 2010 Supreme Court decision lamented by Democrats as his first example of such a conspiracy.
"The Citizens United case, for example, that now allows corporations to give unlimited amounts of money -- anonymous unlimited amounts of money -- in support or opposition to political candidates," Butterfield said. "And it's working," he said ominously.
"Trust us: when the Congressional Black Caucus tells you that a voter ID law will be detrimental to black empowerment -- black political empowerment -- we know what we are talking about and it is for real," Butterfield continued, before contradicting himself (with respect to the alleged goals of the "right-wing conspiracy" trying to return to 1900. "What they want to do is not take away the right to vote, but if black voter participation can be diminished even by ten percent it will make that critical difference all across the country. President Obama won my state, in the last election, by 14,000 votes. Had we had a voter ID law in North Carolina he would not have won the state of NC and probably could not have won the presidency."
Butterfield isn't the first CBC member to invoke Jim Crow for political purposes. "This is the effort that we're seeing of Jim Crow," Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., said last August. "Some of these folks in congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me hanging on a tree."
CBC head Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., assured MSNBC yesterday that the CBC would not tell the pastors at today's event how to vote.