The Supreme Court case involves Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bars any law that discriminates in voting based on race. Racial discrimination in voting is prohibited, whether the law at issue was passed for the purpose of discriminating or the law is proven to have had a discriminatory effect.
By a 6 to 3 vote that split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court majority interpreted the Section 2 “effects” clause to apply only when the challenged restriction imposes a substantial burden with a significantly disparate impact on members of different racial groups.
“Mere inconvenience cannot be enough,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority, describing common sense “guideposts” for dealing with Section 2 challenges. The decision treats blacks and other people of color as adults who are capable of taking advantage of the same multiple ways available to them to vote that are available to everyone else.
The case the Supreme Court decided involved two of Arizona’s voting-related restrictions that opponents claimed violated Section 2. One of the restrictions required the invalidation of ballots cast in person in the wrong precinct. The other restriction prohibited vote harvesting, where third parties such as campaign workers, community activists, etc. go around and collect ballots from multiple voters in different households and deliver them to official polling stations or election offices. Exceptions to this ban included family members, caregivers, and election officials.
President Biden denounced the Supreme Court’s Section 2 decision as doing “severe damage” to voting rights, even though his own administration wrote to the justices that they did not believe the Arizona laws violated Section 2. This is the gang that can’t shoot straight.