“Roberts’ iffy support for voting rights”

Here is my 2005 LA Times oped on Chief Justice Roberts’ role in working for the Reagan administration against the expansion of the Voting Rights Act in 1982 (the expansion which created Section 2 as we know it today, which was used to strike down Texas’s voter law yesterday).  The oped concludes:

When Congress reauthorizes Section 5, will the Supreme Court uphold it against charges that it tramples states’ rights? Some worry the court may not.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s votes in these federalism cases have been pivotal, and her vote in 2004 to uphold a provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act had given those in the civil rights community grounds to be optimistic that a renewed Voting Rights Act could pass constitutional muster.

Roberts’ writings, on the other hand, show much more skepticism of congressional power, particularly on voting rights. Because Roberts viewed the “effects” language in Section 2 as an “intrusive interference” that is a “drastic alteration” of American government and “constitutionally suspect,” why would he look charitably on a renewed Section 5?

I would not count on him to uphold it.

We all now know how that story ends, with John Roberts in the starring role.

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