We don’t need an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote. What we need is a Supreme Court guaranteeing that right through already existing parts of the United States Constitution, such as the right to equal protection. In recent years, the court unfortunately has not read the Constitution to guarantee a vibrant democracy committed to political equality. It effectively struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act; it gave its approval to Indiana’s strict voter identification law; it approved of laws protecting the Democratic and Republican parties from competition; and it rejected efforts to limit money in politics to promote political equality.
The Roberts court’s contrasting views on campaign finance and voting rights are especially troubling. AsLinda Greenhouse and Sara Mayuex have noted, Chief Justice Roberts has waxed poetic about the value of democracy in speaking of the rights of campaign donors, but sees protection of African-American voting rights as an affront to state sovereignty.
There is room for hope, however, that this Supreme Court may slightly improve voting rights in the next few years. The court could soon hear cases regarding the legality of very strict voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Texas. Although the court in an emergency order let Texas’s ID law remain in effect as appeals proceed, it did block an appellate court order letting Wisconsin put its ID law into immediate effect. In both cases, the court stopped changes in last minute election rules.