Shelby v. Holder was another good/bad decision by the Supreme Court, an indirect shot at the Voting Rights Act’s key Section 5 provision that allows for states with bad histories (when it comes to voting rights) to submit any changes it makes to the federal government for approval.
This provision has helped expand the voter rolls for the good.
Instead of invalidating this one section as many had feared, the majority by a 5-4 vote (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) went after Section 4, which uses a formula to define which state and local governments must comply with section 5.
In a sneaky way, the court allowed Section 5 to survive (maybe in order to avoid be seen as racist). But it said Section 4 was unconstitutional. Thus the court struck down Section 4 with a forehand slap, and on the “innocent” backhand return swing just happened to knock down Section 5.
Now that was sneaky Solomonic style.
The Voting Rights Act now goes back to Congress to decide what happens next with Section 4. And you know how well Congress does with divisive racially charged issues.
So what do you think the justices were really thinking about the voting rights act’s viability?
If you read my reaction to the court’s hearing of the case, you know how Scalia viewed it.
Perhaps this was the way, they could get ALL the conservatives on this one, and not look so racist. Knock down Section 4, and well, you take care of Section 5.
But it’s actually worse. The decision doesn’t just end Section 5 as was the real issue in Shelby. Now it appears the entire Voting Rights Act, one of the most significant parts of civil rights legislation, becomes unworkable.
In terms of black and white, that’s fine. But what about the new America that goes to the polls, or because of this SCOTUS action does not?
Where’s the protection for Asian and Latino immigrants and first time minority voters? Those who need language help?
Section 4 might help us if a new inclusive formula is derived. But until it does there’s no section 5. And that means there’s no help, or federal oversight, at all.