The Supreme Court is About to Hear Two Cases that Could Destroy what Remains of the Voting Rights ActBreaking News
tags: Supreme Court, John Roberts, Voting Rights Act, voting rights
Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could shred much of what remains of the right to be free from racial discrimination at the polls. The defendants’ arguments in two consolidated cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee, are some of the most aggressive attacks on the right to vote to reach the Supreme Court in the post-Jim Crow era.
These two DNC cases concern two Arizona laws that make it more difficult to vote. The first requires voting officials to discard in their entirety ballots cast in the wrong precinct, rather than just not counting votes for local candidates who the voter should not have been able to vote for. The second prohibits many forms of “ballot collection,” where a voter gives their absentee ballot to someone else and that person delivers that ballot to the election office.
The most important question in the DNC cases isn’t whether these two particular Arizona laws will be upheld or stuck down, but whether the Court will announce a legal rule that guts one of America’s most important civil rights laws. And there is reason to fear that it will. The Supreme Court doesn’t just have a 6-3 Republican majority; it’s a majority that includes several justices who’ve shown a great deal of hostility toward voting rights generally and the Voting Rights Act in particular.
The Voting Rights Act is the landmark law that President Lyndon Johnson signed to end white supremacist election laws in 1965, and that President Ronald Reagan signed legislation expanding in 1982.
Reagan did so over the strident opposition of a young Justice Department lawyer named John Roberts. Roberts wrote more than two dozens memos opposing the 1982 voting rights law, one of which claimed it was “not only constitutionally suspect, but also contrary to the most fundamental tenants [sic] of the legislative process on which the laws of this country are based.”
Four decades later, Roberts isn’t simply the Chief Justice of the United States, he is the most moderate member of a six justice conservative majority — and his Court has already taken two significant bites out of the Voting Rights Act.
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