The Supreme Court considers the scope of minority voting protection

A man passing by barbed wire and security fences surrounding the United States Supreme Court in Washington, January 26, 2021.

Aldrago | Reuters

Thanks to the former president Donald TrumpAn unfounded allegation of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections and a wave of new election bills aimed at strengthening voting procedures are imminent. Many of these laws will undoubtedly be challenged in court because they limit the voting rights of blacks and other minorities.

On Tuesday, during the Supreme Court’s debate over which criteria apply when the court considers those cases, the judges give off a lot of heat, but with little light and those measures. Provides just a few of the various possible tests on whether a survives or fails. Of particular concern was how to determine laws that appear to be neutral to their faces but have been proven to limit minority voters when implemented.

The Arizona Republican Appeals from a Federal Court of Appeals decision that the court found that the two state actions that disproportionately affected minority voters were illegal under Article 2 of the Voting Rights Act. I was considering. One policy voted from voters cast on election day in the wrong constituency. Another banned third-party ballot collection, sometimes referred to as ballot harvest.

Michael Carvin, a Republican lawyer in Arizona, one of the four political parties that claimed the case, argued that the only thing that matters was whether the law provides equal opportunities for all. He said it is irrelevant whether socio-economic factors contribute to the “ability to take advantage of the opportunity” for minority groups.

Meanwhile, Jessica Ammanson, who claimed on behalf of Democratic Secretary Katie Hobbes of Arizona, said the court had to look at “facts on the ground.”

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona won the proceedings in the U.S. District Court after the Democratic State Commission filed a proceeding in 2016, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals favors the Democrats in their appeal. I made a decision.

DNC advocate Amunson and lawyer Bruce Spiva said Arizona’s minority groups were twice as likely to have their ballots discarded as a result of state inaccurate policies. They claimed that Native American and Hispanic voters were also affected by lack of postal services, low car ownership, and other factors that increased their reliance on friends and neighbors who could deliver ballots. ..

Divide along the partisan line

The case seemed to divide the judges along the lines of the faction, and the six Republican appointees in the court seemed more sympathetic to the narrow reading of Section 2. But at the end of the two-hour discussion, a pandemic over the phone as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, it wasn’t clear where they would draw the line.

“My concern is that your position makes all voting rules vulnerable to attacks under Section 2,” said Judge Samuel Alito, the appointed former President George W. Bush. Told Spiva.

“Poor and poorly educated people will find it harder to comply with almost all voting rules than wealthier people and those who have benefited from more education,” Arito said. ..

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s appointed judge, said the language in Section 2 was “elusive” and was the result of a compromise over that language in 1982.

That year, Congress updated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, stating that there was no need to prove that the Voting Rights Act was intended to discriminate in order to invalidate it. However, the compromise required the court to consider the “whole situation,” including whether minority groups have equal access to polls as a result of the law.

Kavanaugh said the result of the compromise was “like a gray area between pure results and pure opportunities.” He suggested that the courts weigh heavily on whether similar laws are in books in other states, especially those without a legacy of discrimination.

How judges go down within Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is more important in the years since the Panel withdrew another provision of the groundbreaking law in the 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder case. became.

Prior to Shelby County, states and counties with a history of discriminating against minority groups had to obtain federal approval for a new voting bill. In contrast, Article 2 of the Voting Rights Act allows plaintiffs to challenge the law only after it has been enforced.

In 2011, Arizona asked the Ministry of Justice to approve an earlier version of the ban on third-party voter collection, but withdrew it after asking for more information on its impact on minority voters.

The court’s three liberal appointees are more obedient to the argument that the court should consider socio-economic factors that may contribute to whether the law proves discriminatory. It looked like there was.

For example, at the beginning of the debate, Judge Stephen Breyer, the appointee of former President Bill Clinton, pressured Carvin whether his opportunity test could even enable a literacy test. Carbine said it wasn’t.

Later, Spiva claimed to support Democrats, stating that the scope of the literacy test was technically similar.

Discrimination in education

“The problem is that because of discrimination in education and opportunity, it has different implications for racial minorities,” he explained.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor said she strongly opposed scrutinizing whether the law merely allowed equal opportunity.

“You keep talking about equal opportunity, but I don’t see it anywhere in the decree. Are you rewriting the decree?” She asked Carvin.

Another question the court addressed was how large the apparent disparity in voting levels must be before the law goes beyond standards and becomes illegal. In exchange for Thomas, Ammanson admitted that less than one percent of minority votes were abandoned as a result of Arizona’s policy on voting in the wrong constituency.

From time to time, the exact boundaries of what each side was looking for seemed confusing.

For example, if a statistical analysis shows a discrepancy in the proportion of whites and minority voters who did it right, Arito was pressured to see if the law requiring voters to fill in the bubble could be illegal. , Amunson said he needed to know more.

“You have to take a functional view of the political process,” she said, seeing how it affects voters “in the field.”

“They are a lot of words. I really don’t understand what they mean,” Arito said.

“The longer this debate, the less clear I am about how the standards of the two parties differ,” said former President Barack Obama, who spent her time during the debate to raise various hypotheses. Judge Elena Kagan, the appointed person, said at once. point.

The Justice Department under the Trump administration claimed to support Brunovich and the State Republican Party in the case, and wrote a supportive overview in December.

so letter Last month, the Justice Department notified the judge that he had reviewed the case after President Joe Biden took office. Authorities said they no longer supported the interpretation of Brunovich’s voting rights law, but nevertheless continued to believe that Arizona’s two policies were legal.

Competitive disadvantage

The partisan dynamics of the case were extraordinarily clear during the exchange between Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s appointed man, and Carbine, who recently joined the bench. Barrett asked Carbine why the Republicans stood or were capable of proceeding.

Republicans are interested in the case, as invalidating Arizona law would create a “competitive disadvantage” compared to Democrats in elections, Mr. Carbin said.

In another exchange, between Judge Neil Gorsuch and Amerson, Trump’s appointee seemed to be trapped in a popular third-party vote-gathering claim among Republicans that led to fraud. ..

Amunson said Arizona hadn’t had cases of this type of fraud for decades, yet another law criminalizes the collection of fraudulent ballots.

“It doesn’t have to happen in Arizona. How many states should it happen? How many elections?” Gorsuch asked.

The decision is scheduled by the end of June. The case is officially known as Brunovich vs. Democratic National Committee, No. 19–1257, Arizona Republican vs. DNC, No. 19–1258.

The Supreme Court considers the scope of minority voting protection

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