The Crux of the Matter on Voting Rights

At the end of an update on the pending Supreme Court review of the Voting Rights Act (and particularly the Section 5 “preclearance” provision that applies only to jurisdictions with a documented history of discrimination) for New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin makes an important observation after noting the Chief Justice’s stated views that “things have changed in the South” since 1965:

This illustrates the paradox of contemporary voting rights. In a way, Chief Justice Roberts has a point; the South is no longer all that different from the rest of the country. But that’s not so much because the South is now better—the open racism of the years before 1965 is gone—as because the rest of the country is now worse. It would be a sad irony if the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act because it regulates too much in too many places, when the truth is that it regulates too little in too few.

Bingo. Progressives need to be thinking in terms of new voting rights protections even as the landmark laws are defended.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.