Commentary

Despite this week’s Supreme Court action, U.S. and N.C. voting rights hang by a thread

There’s a powerful, if extremely sobering, post on Think Progress this morning by Supreme Court expert Ian Millhiser that’s worth a few minutes of your time. In “The GOP is running its anti-abortion playbook against voting rights–and it’s working: Want to know what the future of voting rights looks like? Look at how the GOP went after abortion,” Millhiser explains that progressives have their work cut out for them in resisting the Right’s voter suppression agenda. After detailing the decades-long assault on reproductive freedom and the success conservatives have had in chipping away at this vital right, he draws parallels to the war on voting rights and urges caution about this week’s Court decision not to review the decision striking down North Carolina’s “Monster Voting Law”:

“And, while the Court decided not to take up a case seeking to permanently reinstate this law on Monday, Roberts wrote a brief statement indicating that this decision largely arose out of procedural anomalies unique to this one case. A majority of the Supreme Court appears eager to vote in favor of similar voter suppression laws once someone offers them a case that doesn’t present similar anomalies.

Oh, and there’s one other thing. There are persistent rumors, fed by entirely believable sources, that Justice Kennedy plans to retire. If he does under Donald Trump, his replacement will almost certainly be an unflinching conservative in the vein of Neil Gorsuch.

If anything, voting rights advocates find themselves in a far worse position than abortion rights supporters were in earlier this decade. The Supreme Court is sending loud signals to conservative lawmakers that those lawmakers have broad leeway to suppress the vote. Republicans, meanwhile, are receiving those signals loud and clear?—?as is evidenced by the wide away of voter suppression laws enacted in the states.

And this time, it is far from clear that Justice Kennedy will swoop in to save our rights.”

Millhiser then goes on to explain how the Right is taking their recent defeat over the North Carolina’s law in stride and is already preparing the next effort to suppress poor and minority voters. As he notes:

“North Carolina Republicans knew that, for every black person they kept from the polls, they were overwhelmingly likely to be improving their own party’s chances of victory.”

The bottom line: This week’s win was nice, but voting rights remains an area in which progressives must fight like heck in the months and years to come.

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