“Civil Rights Déjà Vu, Only Worse”

Sam Bagenstos for TAP:

Voting Rights. After the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision cutting the heart from the Voting Rights Act, states formerly covered by the statute’s preclearance requirement initiated a wave of new vote-suppression measures. Other states also adopted voting restrictions in advance of the 2016 election. The Civil Rights Division responded with an aggressive program of lawsuits that limited the worst abuses, even if these lawsuits were not always successful.

I expect the efforts to attack voter suppression to end in the Trump administration and the division instead to bring new lawsuits that will themselves be designed to suppress the vote. A provision of the National Voter Registration Act (commonly known as the Motor Voter law) requires states to maintain up-to-date voting rolls. Many conservative commentators—including leading right-wing voices on voting issues like Adams and von Spakovsky—believe that the voting rolls in many jurisdictions fail to comply with that provision because they contain people who died, moved out of the jurisdiction, or otherwise are not eligible voters. I expect the Trump Civil Rights Division to bring suits under that provision in places with large minority, youth, or other Democratic-leaning populations. The goal of these lawsuits will be to trim the voting rolls.


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