|People DIED for the Right To Vote, But That Meant NOTHING to Right-Wing Robert's Court|
|Justice Scalia: "Let's Talk About Racial Entitlements!"|
|Chief Justice Roberts shreds the Voting Rights Act|
It worked. It worked miraculously well, in fact. In a remarkably short period, African-American registration rates shot up. Section 5 mattered especially for the Deep South, where there were large concentrations of black voters. By the 1990s, these states were able to send a historic number of black representatives to Congress. But Section 5 didn’t just matter for the big-ticket races. For decades it provided strong protections for minority voters in local and state elections as well as federal ones. Based on those successes, Congress renewed Section 4’s “coverage formula”—the provision that determines which jurisdictions have to preclear changes and which don’t—again and again.
|"Looks like Scalia wore the wrong ROBES to work again...."|
That might seem like an odd notion given that experts have long known that Section 5 was on its last legs. The process has been so drawn out, in fact, that it feels as if everything that can be said about Section 5’s demise has already been said. Every election law professor has had cynical discussions about whether Section 5 still matters. We’ve all offered learned opinions on the likelihood of future legislation and what shape it should take.
If this were the usual case, I would be telling you that Section 5 was important for this and not that, that the court has to be right that the 1960s coverage formula couldn’t last forever, that Congress should have done more to fix what everyone knew would be a sticking point with the court. I would be giving you concrete examples of where Section 5’s absence will matter going forward. (The Texas attorney general would have beaten me to the punch by announcing two hours after the ruling was handed down that its voter ID law, blocked last year by Section 5, will go into effect immediately.) If this were the usual case, it wouldn’t bother me that this issue will be pushed off the front page tomorrow by the next round of Supreme Court blockbusters.