The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 demonstrates judicial activism that will be detrimental to the political representation of minorities.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the changes that have occurred in the intervening decades invalidate the formula the federal government uses to oversee and authorize changes in elections laws in several states and counties with a history of discrimination. Therefore, he called for eliminating the use of these controversial jurisdictions unless this formula is updated with new reasoning and data, instead of using 40-year-old information.
It is true that there have been great changes between 1965 and 2013the most significant, without a doubt, is having an African-American president. But that does not mean, as some would like us to believe, that the discriminatory tactics of the past no longer exist.
In the latest presidential election, many statesincluding the ones that were on the black list and had to request federal authorization to make changes, and no longer have to do it thanks to this court decisionreturned to the old habits.
In some cases, like in North Carolina, voting requirements were imposed, demanding more documentation; in others, voter rolls were purged, like in Florida; in Texas, redistricting was carried out in a way that limits the power of the Latino vote.
Challenges to voter rights are as serious today as they were yesterday. That is why the 2006 reauthorization of this law was passed, with votes of 390-33 in the House of Representatives and 98-0 in the Senate.
The court’s ruling is outrageous. It is an ideological decision that focuses on the appearance of changes that happen as the years pass, disregarding the recent records of several states (which used to be under federal oversight) that to this day continue with the same practices to decrease voter participation among minorities.