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Supreme Court Recognizes Jim Crow’s Demise, Restores Constitutional Order

June 26, 2013 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

The way that Chief Justice Roberts began his opinion in Shelby County v. Holder shows what’s really at stake in the case. (Hint: it’s not whether the federal government can protect racial minorities’ voting rights.) It really provides the key to the decision, even though, unlike many opinion preambles, it doesn’t explicitly state what the Court’s ultimate ruling is.

Parsing this opening section gives you all you really need to know about the modern Voting Rights Act, save one bit that I’ll explain afterwards. To make this easier, I’ve grouped all the sentences by the logical points that Roberts makes — all bullet-points are direct quotes — and then summarized those points:

  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 employed extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary problem.
  • Section 5 of the Act required States to obtain federal permission before enacting any law related to voting—a drastic departure from basic principles of federalism.
  • And

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