“What’s Lost if the Voting Rights Act Falls? Minority voters will lose a key bargaining chip”

I’ve written this Jurisprudence essay for Slate.  It begins:

Odds are, the Supreme Court will strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act after hearing a case from Alabama that will be argued next month. If the part of the law called Section 5 does indeed go down, minority voters in Southern states and elsewhere will lose a key bargaining chip. Section 5 has enabled them to beat back some attempts to make it harder for them to vote, and helped insure that the gains they’ve made in representation and redistricting are not rolled back. As another recent fight over South Carolina’s voter ID law shows, Section 5 still serves a vital role in an era in which partisan legislatures may manipulate election laws for political gain

I talk a lot about the recent South Carolina case over voter id. Last Friday, the judges hearing the South Carolina case agreed that South Carolina had won enough of its case to be entitled to recover its costs from the United States.  But while some like Hans von Spakovsky portray the fee award as a big loss for the government, that misses the point. DOJ was right to bring this suit against a harsh voter id law, and the law which was approved was very different from the one originally submitted; the real winners of the litigation are the minority voters in South Carolina who ended up with a much better law.


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