The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee is not conservative – it destroys rather than preserves. It rips power from Congress instead of limiting court intervention. This is the work of an activist court, hell-bent on making America an authoritarian state ruled by a white, wealthy minority.
In a stunning admission, the majority opinion says that what it claims are small differences in impact of voting regulations on racial minorities versus white voters are not relevant because they might be accounted for by differences in “employment, wealth, and education” (Opinion, p. 18). This is the very justification used for literacy tests. This eviscerates the Voting RIghts Act of 1965.
As Justice Kagan wrote in dissent:
If a single statute represents the best of America, it is the Voting Rights Act. It marries two great ideals: democracy and racial equality. And it dedicates our country to carrying them out. Section 2, the provision at issue here, guarantees that members of every racial group will have equal voting opportunities. Citizens of every race will have the same shot to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. They will all own our democracy together—no one more and no one less than any other.Brnovich v. DNC, Kagan dissent, p. 1
But, today the majority of the Supreme Court undermined the Voting Rights Act, opening the door to the affirmation of the hundreds of voting restrictions that Republican-controlled legislatures have enacted this year. Recall that the Voting Rights Act has been the law of our land since 1965. Yet today, purporting to fear that the Voting Rights Act is too “radical,” that it “will invalidate too many state laws,” the majority limits the law so as to cripple its scope. (Dissent, pp. 2-3)
What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten—in order to weaken—a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about “the end of discrimination in voting.”Brnovich v. DNC, Kagan dissent, p. 3
Congress must act quickly to repair that damage. The House has done its job in passing the For The People Act. The Senate let that law die in June – death by filibuster. It’s time to end the filibuster and protect voting rights.
Justice Kagan brilliantly dismembers the majority’s attempt to justify its discriminatory result. Especially important is her exposure of the “alternative reality” the majority creates as it ignores facts on the ground in rural areas of Arizona occupied by Native Americans who have no mail service and a shocking lack of access to transportation. Furthermore, while the majority dismisses the impact on Native American and other minority votes (as though every vote did not matter), Kagan establishes that the votes lost due to voter suppression would change the outcome of tight elections — which are not uncommon in Arizona.