Friday was a great day for voting rights. In fact, it was probably the best day voting rights advocates have had since 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. First, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voting law—seen by many as the most regressive in the nation—finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against black voters in drafting the bill. Hours later, a federal court told Kansas it couldn’t stop people from voting in state and local elections this fall simply because they failed to show proof of citizenship when they registered. Not long after, a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a range of strict voting rules imposed in Wisconsin. Along with other recent decisions against voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, Friday’s rulings suggest a new assertiveness by the courts in fighting off the most egregious state-level barriers to the polls. Even the high court—though unlikely to overturn its disastrous 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder any time soon, even with a fifth liberal member potentially on the court after the election—is poised to join the wave by issuing a ruling significantly strengthening voting rights before too long.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen voting restrictions blocked by courts. And, thanks to Shelby, plenty of other new constraints—in states like Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia—will be in place in November. Still, the string of opinions over the past two-plus weeks has the feel of a potentially decisive shift in how courts treat these laws. In bracingly clear language, the recent rulings collectively reinforce the picture of these restrictions that their fiercest critics have long painted: That they purport to solve a problem—fraud and illegal voting—that doesn’t actually exist; that even if fraud were a problem, these laws would do little to stop it; that instead they keep large numbers of legitimate would-be voters from the polls; and that they affect blacks and Latinos more than whites, in many cases by design.
The North Carolina ruling found that the law’s provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Lawmakers, the court recounted, asked for a racial breakdown of certain methods of voting—absentee voting, early voting, out-of-precinct voting, and same-day voter registration, in which voters can register and vote all in one—then eliminated or cut all those that blacks used more than whites. (On Friday, warning outlandishly that the North Carolina ruling could let Hillary Clinton “steal the election” through fraud, state Republicans said they’d appeal to the Supreme Court. But their chances of getting five votes on the eight-member court are slim.)
Full Article: Why the Supreme Court likely won’t revisit Shelby County..