August 19, 2013
What Does the Constitution Actually Say About Voting Rights?

Since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder in June, conservative governments in the South and elsewhere have raced to introduce new voting restrictions. Most prominent in the attacks is the comprehensive vote-restriction law passed by the Republican majority in the North Carolina legislature. The law cuts back early voting, restricts private groups from conducting voter-registration drives, eliminates election-day voter registration, and imposes the strictest voter ID rules in the country. There is evidence that Republican legislatures elsewhere will follow North Carolina’s lead.
Neither the American people nor the federal courts would tolerate restrictions of this sort if they were imposed on free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, or freedom to petition government for redress of grievances. For that matter, many Southern states—and probably a majority of the Supreme Court—would reject far less onerous restrictions on the right to “keep and bear arms.” Yet each of those rights is mentioned only once in the Constitution. The “right to vote” is mentioned five times—and yet the Court has brushed it aside as a privilege that states may observe at their convenience. Even an overwhelming majority of Congress—which is given the power to enforce the right in no fewer than four different places in the Constitution—cannot protect this right more strongly than the Court feels appropriate.
What would happen if we took the Constitution’s text on this matter seriously?
Read more. [Image: Keith Bedford/Reuters]

What Does the Constitution Actually Say About Voting Rights?

Since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder in June, conservative governments in the South and elsewhere have raced to introduce new voting restrictions. Most prominent in the attacks is the comprehensive vote-restriction law passed by the Republican majority in the North Carolina legislature. The law cuts back early voting, restricts private groups from conducting voter-registration drives, eliminates election-day voter registration, and imposes the strictest voter ID rules in the country. There is evidence that Republican legislatures elsewhere will follow North Carolina’s lead.

Neither the American people nor the federal courts would tolerate restrictions of this sort if they were imposed on free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, or freedom to petition government for redress of grievances. For that matter, many Southern states—and probably a majority of the Supreme Court—would reject far less onerous restrictions on the right to “keep and bear arms.” Yet each of those rights is mentioned only once in the Constitution. The “right to vote” is mentioned five times—and yet the Court has brushed it aside as a privilege that states may observe at their convenience. Even an overwhelming majority of Congress—which is given the power to enforce the right in no fewer than four different places in the Constitution—cannot protect this right more strongly than the Court feels appropriate.

What would happen if we took the Constitution’s text on this matter seriously?

Read more. [Image: Keith Bedford/Reuters]

  1. teacheramy100 reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. mousymo reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. fountainofthought reblogged this from yourenotaloneinthis
  4. noeatinginthelibrary reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. anindiscriminatecollection reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. chemman9 reblogged this from theatlantic
  7. yourenotaloneinthis reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. parmodule reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. leonemarziano reblogged this from theatlantic
  10. profithacks2 reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. livinglife-lovinglife reblogged this from thefireshouse
  12. tekym reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. andyojones reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. gunhillsunny reblogged this from theatlantic
  15. ballsandbutts reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. ehoefler reblogged this from theatlantic
  17. itmightbedoug reblogged this from theatlantic
  18. businessoutsider reblogged this from theatlantic
  19. cheesequeeen reblogged this from infiniteinfaculties