Analysis: John Roberts has another chance to diminish the Voting Rights Act
March 2, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts leaves after day five of the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol January 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump???s defense team started to present its arguments today in the Senate impeachment trial. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Chief Justice John Roberts has singlehandedly slowed a conservative revolution at the Supreme Court in recent years, but he has for even longer -- 40 years -- opposed racial remedies and narrowly construed the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Lawyers for the Democratic National Committee and Arizona Secretary of State told the justices wide swaths of Native Americans and other minorities could be disenfranchised by Arizona laws requiring ballots cast by people at the wrong precinct to be tossed and prohibiting most third parties -- beyond a relative or mail carrier -- from collecting absentee ballots, for example, at a nursing home.
A decision siding with Arizona Republicans and a tough standard for assessing the denial of voting rights would deepen the pattern of the 66-year-old Roberts, who has demonstrated he believes government remedies tied to race, whether in voter protections, public school integration plans or university affirmative action, violate the constitutional guarantee of equality and, in the end, disserve racial minorities.
The Arizona controversy picked up from Roberts' consequential 2013 opinion that now prevents federal officials from pre-screening potentially discriminatory voting rules in states with histories of racial bias.
Referring to Roberts' opinion in the case, Bruce Spiva, representing the Democratic National Committee, said Tuesday, "The Court acknowledged that voting discrimination still exists.
In their arguments, Brnovich and Michael Carvin, who separately represented the Arizona Republican Party, emphasized state power to set election procedures and said the challengers failed to show voting rights were sufficiently burdened to prove a VRA claim.
Amunson said some states may have an interest in limiting ballot collection "but when you look at the particular facts here, that does not appear to be Arizona's interest. " She said the record in the case showed that Native Americans and Latinos relied more on ballot collection than white voters.