Political Animal


January 07, 2013 1:13 PM The Crux of the Matter on Voting Rights

By Ed Kilgore

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.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ray Lodato on January 07, 2013 1:50 PM:

    Ed, when I ran for Congress in IL-1 last year, a key tenet of my platform was a call for a Voting Rights Amendment to the Constitution. As most of your readers probably know, voting rights are not guaranteed by the Constitution, and the consequences of that are the state-by-state assaults on voter access that we have seen since 2010.

  • Stephen on January 07, 2013 2:21 PM:

    Republicans want to make it harder to vote and easier to buy guns.

    What a party.

  • Joe Student on January 07, 2013 2:36 PM:

    It appears a pattern. No I am not advocating a conspiracy theory. Most likely strategist are just separately bouncing different ideas of how to maintain republican majority with the result being in essence a legal coup:

    At State and Congressional level:
    1 - Redistricting (gerrymandering)
    2 - Reduce democratic turnout
    3 - Republican majority in most cases (will take a supermajority of democratic votes to obtain simple congressional majority)

    At Senate level
    1 - Amend Constitution to bring back state legislatures appointing Senate representatives

    At Presidential level
    1 - Change electoral college votes at the state level to match (now gerrymandered) congessional districts (being mentioned in PA and OH)

    Result: A permanent republican majority.