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Defending the Voting Rights Act

In the wake of an election season in which the Voting Rights Act proved its mettle as the last, best hope against voter suppression efforts, the Supreme Court will be reviewing the constitutionality of a key part of this iconic civil rights statute in a case called Shelby County v. Holder.

If the experience over the last 12 months proves anything, it's that the Voting Rights Act is as vital today as it was in 1965 when originally passed.

Shelby County Post-Argument Commentary: Voting rights are an American entitlement

February 27, 2013

A cross-post of Elizabeth Wydra's post-argument commentary for SCOTUS Blog.

Predictions based on oral argument are a risky business, but after this morning it is fairly safe to say that the outcome of Shelby County will hinge on how the Justices answer the question Justice Elena Kagan asked toward the end of argument: who gets to decide when the problem of racial discrimination in voting is solved? Because I think most Americans would recognize the reality that voting discrimination is still a problem, I would rephrase slightly: who gets to decide how best to go about solving the problem of voting discrimination?  As Solicitor General Don Verrilli repeatedly emphasized this morning, the Constitution expressly grants Congress the power to enforce the constitutional guarantee of the right to vote free from racial discrimination.  Not the courts.  Not Shelby County, Alabama, of all places.   Not even Justice Kennedy.

Reagan’s Former AG Schools Hans von Spakovsky on Voting Rights

February 14, 2013

In a prior post, we noted the deafening silence from conservative constitutional scholars when it comes to the constitutional basis for Shelby County’s challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Just as notable is this rather ferocious amicus brief, which features Dick Thornburgh, Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as its lead signatory.  Not only does Thornburgh’s brief strongly support the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, but it also delivers a gut punch (care of Thornburgh and a distinguished, bipartisan group of former Department of Justice officials) to a brief filed on behalf of Shelby County by a very partisan group of notable conservatives, including Hans von Spakovsky, Chuck Cooper, and Roger Clegg.    Read more

 

 

The Deafening Silence of Conservative Stars on the Constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act

February 11, 2013

One of the glaring things revealed by a review of the briefs in Shelby County v. Holder is the dearth of serious constitutional scholars in the fray supporting the conservative attack on the Voting Rights Act.

For states, the Voting Rights Act actually means manageable burdens and major benefits

January 23, 2013

Conservative adversaries of the Voting Rights Act have long tried to paint the law as an oppressive bureaucratic burden, a federal imposition on states that can’t be tolerated under the Constitution. That was their argument against the law in 1964, and it’s still their argument today as the Court prepares to consider Shelby County v. Holder.

The Gaping Hole in the Conservative Case Against the Voting Rights Act

January 15, 2013

Over the holiday season, Shelby County, Alabama and its amici, including the States of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and a handful of conservative legal organizations, filed briefs in the Supreme Court, urging the Justices to strike down the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights, the Act’s admittedly strong medicine designed to prevent and deter racial discrimination in voting in jurisdictions with the longest history of voting discrimination.  The basic story running through these bri

Lincoln, the Supreme Court, and the Reconstruction Revolution

January 10, 2013

Could a film alter the course of Supreme Court history? If the justices take a trip to their local movie theaters to see "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-nominated film just might.

Defending the Voting Rights Act From Its Conservative Critics

December 3, 2012

In a condescending but shallow response to a Huffington Post piece written last week by my colleague Emily Phelps and me, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto accuses us of appealing to "emotion" and wallowing in "nostalgia for the heroism of the civil rights movement half a century ago." Our piece mourned the recent death of Lawrence Guyot, a civil righ

The Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court, and the Life of Lawrence Guyot

November 28, 2012

If medals were awarded for bravery and injuries sustained in the war over civil rights and voting rights, then Lawrence Guyot, who died this weekend, would have been one of our most decorated veterans.

The New York Times’ obituary chronicles some of his harrowing experiences:

South Carolina’s Voter ID Law Blocked for 2012 Elections, Conservative Jurists Reaffirm Critical Role of Voting Rights Act

October 11, 2012

Sometime in the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is widely expected to grant review in Shelby County v Holder, setting up a huge constitutional showdown over the constitutionality of the preclearance requirement contained in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, in many ways the heart and soul of the Act.  In the meantime, a string of conservative judges have been quietly but powerfully making the case why the preclearance provision of the Votin

Supreme Court Review Puts Voting Rights Act In Jeopardy After Election Proves Its Necessity

November 9, 2012

In the wake of an election season in which the Voting Rights Act proved its mettle as the last, best hope against voter suppression efforts, the Supreme Court today decided to review the constitutionality of a key part of this iconic civil rights statute in a case called Shelby County v. Holder.  If the experience over the last 12 months proves anything, it’s that the Voting Rights Act is as vital today as it was in 1965 when originally passed.  Hopefully, the proven success of the Act and the powerful opinions written by lower court judges from across the ideological spectrum applying it will convince a majority on the Court to affirm rather than undermine the vital constitutionality of the Act.

The Surprisingly Easy Case for the Constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act

September 24, 2012

The next big showdown over the constitutional powers of the federal government is nearly upon us.  When the Supreme Court reconvenes in October, the Court is widely expected to grant review in Shelby County v Holder, a constitutional challenge to Congress’ 2006 renewal of the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act, one of the Act’s most important and successful provisions in preventing and deterring racial discrimination in voting.