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July 23, 2013 1:22 PM Supreme Court Decisions Have Consequences

By Ed Kilgore

So do you think the Supreme Court decision largely invalidating the preclearance requirement imposed by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was no big deal, since southern discrimination is largely a thing of the past and other anti-discrimination measures are available?

Check out what the North Carolina legislature is about to do, per this depressing report from The Nation’s Ari Berman:

This week, the North Carolina legislature will almost certainly pass a strict new voter ID law that could disenfranchise 318,000 registered voters who don’t have the narrow forms of accepted state-issued ID. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the bill has since been amended by Republicans to include a slew of appalling voter suppression measures. They include cutting a week of early voting, ending same-day registration during the early voting period and making it easier for vigilante poll-watchers to challenge eligible voters. The bill is being debated this afternoon in the Senate Rules Committee.

Until the Shelby County v. Holder decision came down, this bill would have been reviewable on multiple grounds by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, and might not have even included some of the more egregious restrictions. As Berman points out, there are alternative legal paths for challenging the bill, and it could spark a political backlash that could thwart its intent. But there’s no question that southern Republicans are fully aware of the the green light the Court gave them, and are racing ahead, knowing voting restrictions are much harder to reverse once they are enacted.

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.

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