When the majority in Shelby County held that the Voting Rights Act had outlived its purpose, all because minority voter registration numbers had caught up in previously problematic states, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was furious. Actually, lots of people were furious, but she was furious and had the bench to use as a pulpit.
We covered her powerful dissent, which pointed out every other sign of voter suppression: gerrymandering, racist southern lawmakers who were caught on tape referring to their black constituents as "aborigines," the hundreds of discriminatory voting law changes blocked by the DOJ since the 1980s, and more.
The majority had one stat: voter registration numbers. Ginsburg had many, many more. Here are a few others:
Here are a Few (Hundred) Cases of Voter Suppression
Here's another piece of evidence: a study, released this week on the 49th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, counted 332 cases in the last two decades in which voters successfully sued for violations of their voting rights, or when the U.S. Department of Justice blocked a state or county's attempt to change their voting laws in an unconstitutional way, reports ThinkProgress.
Ten more instances were settled out of court. And that doesn't even begin to address the trend of voter ID laws that are being fought over nationwide.
Speaking of voter ID laws, which are passed in order to combat voter fraud, here is another fun stat from a second study by Harvard Professor Justin Levitt: out of a billion votes cast from 2000 to 2014, researchers could only find thirty-one credible instances of voter fraud.
Levitt's research also showed that another justification for these laws, increasing confidence in the outcome of elections, doesn't hold water. "People who think elections are being stolen, and people who think they're not, each hold on to that opinion no matter what the governing ID rules in their area," he said.
Congress Can Still Fix This
An important part of the majority's holding was that it was limited to striking down the coverage criteria used to determine which states and counties would be subject to federal oversight.
Congress, of course, could always step in and pass new coverage criteria, as the opinion left the door open for the criteria to be updated, and the law "resurrected," so to speak. The individuals behind the study are calling for Congress to do exactly that -- update the law, though it seems extremely unlikely that they'll do so before this November's elections.
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