Caving in Kinston?

Following up on this post, an opponent of section 5 emails to ask me if I’ve heard rumors that the DOJ would reverse course and decide to preclear in Kinston?  The result of doing so would be to moot the case, and to prevent it from working it’s way up the system.

I have not heard those rumors (and I have no idea if the email to me was just a way to get a rumor started), but it would be a smart move by DOJ.  And not unprecedented.  It’s what DOJ did in a suit against some new Georgia voting laws.

If I were a DOJ lawyer, I’d much rather be defending the constitutionality of the VRA in the Shelby County case than in Kinston. It is not clear to me that moving to nonpartisan elections in Kinston County has the requisite discriminatory purpose or effect under section 5.

Kinston is especially dangerous for DOJ because the challenge is to the 2006 amendments to section 5 of the VRA.  This could give the conservatives on the Supreme Court a way to effectively strike down section 5, but say they are “only” striking the amendments.  Death by a thousand cuts and all that.

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