Joan Biskupic for CNN:
Georgia’s voter restrictions were dashed into law Thursday by Republicans shaken over recent election losses and lies about fraud from former President Donald Trump, yet the measures also developed against a backdrop of US Supreme Court decisions hollowing out federal voting rights protection.
In another world, before the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Georgia would have had to obtain federal approval for new election practices to ensure they did not harm Blacks and other minority voters.And at another time, before the Roberts Court enhanced state latitude in a series of rulings, legislators might have hedged before enacting policies from new voter identification requirements, to a prohibition on third-party collection of ballots to a rule against non-poll workers providing food or water to voters waiting in lines.But the conservative court has increasingly granted states leeway over how they run elections.
That case from Shelby County, Alabama, centered on a provision of the 1965 act that required states with a history of discrimination to seek approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court before changing electoral policy. By a 5-4 vote, the court invalidated the provision that still covered nine states, including Georgia.
“The signal the conservatives on the court have sent is that they are willing to tolerate a lot of partisanship in how elections are run,” said Professor Richard Hasen, at the University of California, Irvine, law school. “The question is whether things will change now that the 2020 elections showed how precarious our election system is and voter confidence is.”