Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shelby County v. Holder Reaction Coverage

By Associate Professor Justin Levitt

These posts originally appeared on the Election Law Blog

Reactions to Shelby County: Spencer Overton
I'll be expecting several comments today on Shelby County from academics who write in the field. Spencer Overton kicks it off:
The preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act required that all or part of 15 states submit their election changes to federal officials for approval. Today, five members of the Court ruled that the Section 4 coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional and can no longer be used to require that areas preclear their election rules with federal officials. The Court invalidated the coverage formula because the Justices believed the formula was based on outdated election data from the 1960s and 1970s.
Today's Supreme Court decision is a setback for democracy.
Unfortunately, today's decision gives politicians even more power to unfairly manipulate election rules and target Americans based on how they look or talk. There is overwhelming evidence that unfair voting rules remain a very real threat--too many political operatives currently manipulate rules to diminish the voices of growing minority communities.

His thoughts continue here.

Shelby County Coverage So Far

SCOTUSblog (and here)
USA Today
NY Times (and here)
Washington Post
Wall St. Journal
McClatchy (Miami Herald)
LA Times
Houston Chronicle
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
National Journal
The Hill
Roll Call
The Nation (and here, from Ari Berman)

And with a little preview, I was on the Tavis Smiley show (with KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw) last night, discussing the Monday opinions and laying the ground for Shelby County. At that point, I was still optimistic.

Reactions to Shelby County: Bob Bauer

Bob assesses the Roberts Court's take on federalism in the elections arena. It begins:
Barely had the Court issued its opinion in the Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, invalidating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and for all practical purposes Section 5, when the State of Texas promptly announced a new photo ID requirement. And the Court's reasoning in this and other cases in recent years, including the freshly minted Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, 570 U.S. __(2013), leaves little doubt that it is emboldening states to proceed on the path of the last few years, imposing ID and other limitations on access to the polls.
The Roberts opinion in Shelby County is short: 24 pages in all, which seems a fairly crisp, summarily delivered blow to a landmark voting law. Striking is the emphasis on the rights of states to legislate electoral restrictions with a freer hand. Right from the beginning, the Chief emphasizes that the remedy provided by Section 5 was "extraordinary" or "drastic" or "dramatic": he applies those adjectives to the intrusion on the authority of states rather than to the long and sordid history of voting discrimination. Shelby County, No. 12-96, Slip Op. at 1.
On this point, the Chief bends Katzenbach v. South Carolina, 383 U.S. 301, out of recognizable shape. He would have the reader believe that the case represented on the federal government's part a stretch--an "extraordinary," "drastic," "dramatic" action--warranted by exceptional circumstances. Lost in this gloss on the case is the actual tone and substance of the Katzenbach Court's position. . . .

More Here.

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