Adam Liptak deep dive:
If the sweeping voting rights bill that the House passed in March overcomes substantial hurdles in the Senate to become law, it would reshape American elections and represent a triumph for Democrats eager to combat the wave of election restrictions moving through Republican-controlled state legislatures.
But passage of the bill, known as H.R. 1, would end a legislative fight and start a legal war that could dwarf the court challenges aimed at the Affordable Care Act over the past decade.
“I have no doubt that if H.R. 1 passes, we’re going to have a dozen major Supreme Court cases on different pieces of it,” said Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor at Harvard.
The potential for the bill to set off a sprawling constitutional battle is largely a function of its ambitions. It would end felon disenfranchisement, require independent commissions to draw congressional districts, establish public financing for congressional candidates, order presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, address dark money in political advertising and restructure the Federal Election Commission.
The bill’s opponents say that it is, in the words of an editorial in The National Review, “a frontal assault on the Constitution” and “the most comprehensively unconstitutional bill in modern American history.”
More measured critics take issue with specific provisions even as they acknowledge that the very nature of the bill — a grab bag of largely unrelated measures — would make it difficult to attack in a systematic way. In that respect, the anticipated challenges differ from those aimed at the Affordable Care Act, some of which sought to destroy the entire law.