In its ruling Tuesday on the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged the continued existence of voting discrimination. But only the shiniest of optimists would see positive news in the court’s decision. By declaring unconstitutional the formula set forth in the act to determine which state and local governments should seek “preclearance” from the federal government before making election changes, the court rendered the Voting Rights Act all but useless.
It’s a cynical ruling. By issuing “no holding” on Section 5, the preclearance provision it was asked to consider in Shelby County v. Holder, while finding the preclearance formula in Section 4 currently out of step with the Constitution, the court placed the future of the Voting Rights Act in the hands of a partisan-paralyzed Congress. Washing its hands, the court’s 5-4 majority then walks away from the issue.
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