Voting Rights Act at risk of further dismantling in Supreme Court: NPR

0
45
Voting Rights Act at risk of further dismantling in Supreme Court: NPR
google news

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Supreme Court Of The United States

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a case that could put another nail in the coffin of the historic Voting Rights Act, first passed in 1965 and aimed at eliminating racial discrimination against voters. minorities.

Since 2013, the Supreme Court has twice struck down or neutralized significant parts of the law. Now, once again, the law is on the chopping block — this time on the question of how state legislatures can draw constituency lines in Congress when state voters are racially polarized.

At issue is Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan passed by the state’s Republican legislature after the 2020 census. More than a quarter of the state’s population is African American, but in only 1 of 7 districts, minority voters have a realistic chance of electing the candidate of their choice. Black voters are either concentrated in this district, so that they form a supermajority there, or are spread across the remaining six districts, so that their voting power is diluted. This is a practice known as packing and cracking.

“Voting in Alabama is racially polarized, which means that black voters and white voters consistently vote for different candidates, especially when black candidates are on the ballot,” says election law expert Richard Pildes. And that, he says, “triggers the Voting Rights Act.”

How the lower courts ruled

The triggering of the Voting Rights Act is a big deal, with particular irony in this context. That’s because this case involves a provision that Congress amended in 1982 to correct what it saw as the Supreme Court’s misinterpretation of the law.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that suffrage advocates must prove intentional discrimination in order to invalidate an electoral system, Congress amended the law to specify that minority voters need only prove a result discrimination – a much easier thing to do than to prove intentional discrimination. The discriminatory outcome has been the norm ever since, upheld by the Supreme Court and applied by lower courts.

In January, a three-judge Federal Court panel unanimously ruled that Alabama could and should have created two compact congressional districts with a majority, or near a majority, of black voters: two districts instead of just one. Two of the judges on the panel were Trump appointees, the third a Clinton appointee.

The state appealed to the Supreme Court, which by a 5-4 vote blocked the lower court’s decision, which ordered a new map for the 2022 election, then nine months away. It was too much for Chief Justice John Roberts, a longtime critic of the Voting Rights Act, but who this time dissented with the three court liberals. He said he could find “no apparent error” in the lower court’s application of existing precedents.

The Alabama Argument

What he didn’t say was whether the court should revisit some of those precedents. And on Tuesday, the court hears arguments about whether to do just that. The question is whether to overturn or change previous decisions that have governed the law for more than 30 years. Existing precedents impose an “affirmative duty” on racially polarized voting to “give minority voters an equal opportunity to elect the candidates they prefer,” says Pildes, a professor at the University of New York’s law school. York.

He notes that Alabama’s arguments range from narrow arguments about how to interpret the 1982 Voting Rights Act amendments to more extreme arguments.

An extreme argument, Pildes says, is that the Voting Rights Act does not apply to legislative redistricting plans at all, even though the court has historically applied the law to such plans. “Or,” he said, “even more dramatically, that if [the Voting Rights Act] applies as the lower court held here, then the law is unconstitutional.”

Unconstitutional because it is based on the affirmative creation of a race-based compact second district. As Alabama put it in its briefs, by requiring a “race-based” redistricting map, the lower court indulged in “the harmful idea that redistricting begins and ends with racial considerations.” .

Against this argument, black voters argue that the state’s argument boils down to a backwards and forwards proposition: that any effort to eradicate racial discrimination is unconstitutional because it must emphasize on racial considerations.

NPR News

google news
Previous articleOpen Community Aggregation Game Platform HAM Launches Web3.0 Developer Aggregation Tool
Next articleRavens are field-goal favorites over visiting Bengals in ‘Sunday Night Football’ matchup