Voting rights law is in the midst of an existential crisis. The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is probably the most celebrated civil rights statute ever enacted by Congress. By most accounts, the central concern that gave rise to the VRA—racial animus against black voters and black candidates by white state and private actors—has, blessedly, retreated into the annals of history since the Act's passage…Though isolated instances of racial animus in voting persist, and may be with us always, the VRA has replaced the systematic, state‐sponsored racial exclusion that affected the rights of millions of American citizens seeking to participate in the political process with a new reality. Literacy tests are no more, at least as a feature of the electoral process; grandfather clauses are buried with the grandfathers; retaliation by private employers against black voters who dared to register to vote exists only in our memories, if at all; and few twenty‐first century Americans could imagine that anyone would assault a voter or group of voters for exercising their right to vote, much less that the state would fail to prosecute such an attacker. The question then is what steps remain for voting rights policy.
Section 2 is Dead: Long Live Section 2
- Guy-Uriel E. Charles
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- Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law. Thanks to Christopher Elmendorf and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer.