Joan Biskupic: “Voting Rights Act ruling is latest attempt by Trump-nominated judges to overturn Supreme Court precedent”

Joan Biskupic for CNN:

A US appellate court decision Monday undercutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 rejects decades of precedent and appears likely to provoke a confrontation at the US Supreme Court, where the milestone law has been increasingly under attack.

At stake are the voting rights of Blacks, Hispanics and other racial minorities that have been vindicated under a section of the VRA prohibiting discrimination based on race. Section 2 has helped ensure that states draw legislative and congressional districts fairly and that minority voters have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

The Supreme Court – as recently as June – has reaffirmed Section 2. But US appellate judge David Stras, the author of the majority opinion in Monday’s case from Arkansas, observed that Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have called a key provision of the law into question. His ruling Monday could ultimately gut the law’s protections.

Monday’s appellate court ruling – essentially getting out ahead of the high court – seems certain to instigate a new voting-rights showdown as the nation heads into a presidential election cycle.

The decision is the latest example of former President Donald Trump’s influence over the federal judiciary. Stras, one of Trump’s first appellate court appointees, defied Supreme Court precedent to bolster a conservative interpretation of the law backed by Thomas and Gorsuch, who was Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee.

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