August 11, 2005

More on Judge Roberts and the Voting Rights Act

In today's Los Angeles Times, Abigail Thernstrom writes this oped. Thernstrom's views of Roberts' role in the 1982 VRA amendment process is pretty similar to my own, though she of course has a different view of whether Roberts' should be commended for his effort.

Meanwhile, the National Archives has issued 500 more pages of Roberts papers (see here). Some of these papers relate to the 1982 VRA process (see, for example, here and here). From my early perusal, I did not see much material that is new or different on voting rights than what has already been released. One interesting tidbit is this November 6, 1981 memo early in the VRA process, in which Judge Roberts tells the attorney general that the effects test proposed in the House bill "would make challenges to a broad range of voting practices much easier, and give courts far broader license to interfere with voting practices across the country. In particular, such widely accepted practices as at-large voting would be subject to attack, since it is fairly easy to demonstrate that such practices have the effect of diluting black voting strength. For Congress and the President to invite such judicial remaking of the political system through an effects test is sharply inconsistent with the thrust of your Federal Legal Council speech."

Posted by Rick Hasen at August 11, 2005 07:19 AM