Voter Suppression

Supreme Court Rules Against Voting Rights. Again.

Written by SK Ashby

The United States Supreme Court released the last of their rulings for the current session and that included yet another ruling against the Voting Rights Act.

In a 6 to 3 decision with all conservatives siding against the liberals, the court ruled that laws against so-called 'ballot harvesting,' among other things, are legal.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion which asserts that racist outcomes do not necessarily prove racist intent.

The 6-3 ruling, authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, held that the restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties and where ballots may be cast did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

The "mere fact there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal opportunity to vote," Alito said.

In a scathing dissent, liberal Justice Elena Kagan called the ruling "tragic," noting that crude efforts pursued by some states in the past to block voting access, such as "literacy tests" to prevent Black people from casting ballots, have given way to "ever-new forms of discrimination" since the court in 2013 gutted another part of the Voting Rights Act.

We've gone from Chief Justice John Roberts saying racism is over to Justice Alito saying racial disparity is actually fine.

Many people including President Biden himself immediately reacted to this ruling by calling on Congress to pass a new voting rights bill, but that was not my reaction.

My reaction was that doing so many not matter or at least wouldn't survive a challenge in front of this Supreme Court. This court has been at war with voting rights for most of a decade now and the consistent message is that states have a great deal of if not total leeway to do whatever they want.

But that goes both ways. While Republican-controlled states are suppressing votes, Democratic states such as Virginia have greatly expanded ballot access. The court has enabled states to do what they want and that means the solution is to win control of state governments and stop suppression at its source.

I'm not necessarily saying Democrats in Congress shouldn't eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass a voting rights bill, but I don't think that will end voter suppression. The only way to end it under the current makeup of the Supreme Court is to take control of more states.