“Stealing the Crown Jewels: Justice Alito purports to place the future of abortion in the hands of women voters—despite abetting the disenfranchisement of Black and Latina women”

Sherrilyn Ifill for the NYRB:

Since then, Black women have had to overcome an accelerating and complex array of voter suppression schemes, which have proliferated with alarming speed. Even as the Dobbs draft circulates, the ability of Black and Latina women to vote—and have their votes counted—is in peril as a result of voter suppression laws passed in states including Georgia, Texas, and Florida. Those laws are being challenged by civil rights groups in litigation unlikely to be fully resolved before this year’s midterm congressional and state elections.

Black women voters have proved incredibly resilient, leading record turnout for the Democratic base in the 2020 presidential election and in the Georgia special election in 2021. Black voters stood in line for nine hours in Fulton County, Georgia, in the 2020 presidential primary, during some of the worst days of the pandemic. Their patriotism and determination were rewarded by the Georgia Republican Party with a new set of voter suppression laws, including one section that criminalizes giving water or refreshments to voters standing in line.

That law and additional elements of newly enacted voter suppression laws are also the subject of lawsuits brought under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But those challenges will not be evaluated using the standard for reviewing claims under Section 2 that has been in place for more than forty years, because last summer, in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, Justice Alito himself announced a new and more restrictive test for evaluating claims under Section 2 that runs roughshod over the test articulated by Congress and used effectively for decades by lower courts. Justice Elena Kagan, writing in dissent, described his majority opinion as a “law-free zone.” He doesn’t seem to mind. Just a month ago, the Court allowed a flagrantly racist gerrymander, which had been painstakingly detailed in a 234-page decision by a federal trial court in Alabama, to go forward for this year’s midterm elections. The Court announced that decision on the “shadow docket”—its portfolio of presumably temporary emergency orders decided without a full opinion by the Court, and without full briefing or oral argument by the parties.

All of these decisions have made it harder for Black women to exercise the electoral power Alito suggests is their recourse to secure abortion access. When Alito purports to place the future of abortion in the hands of women voters, he is denying the stark political disenfranchisement of Black and Latina women that the Court itself has abetted. To which women, then, is he referring?

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