Home Posts In The Arizona Voting Rights Case, Justice Kagan Issues A Fiery Dissent.
In The Arizona Voting Rights Case, Justice Kagan Issues A Fiery Dissent.
Supreme Court

In The Arizona Voting Rights Case, Justice Kagan Issues A Fiery Dissent.


Justice Elena Kagan reacted angrily after the Supreme Court's conservative members voted unanimously on Thursday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona that have been criticized for having a disproportionate impact on voters of color.

“If there is a single statute that represents the best of America, it is the Voting Rights Act,” Kagan began her 41-page dissent. “It marries two great ideals: democracy and racial equality, and it commits our country to carrying them out.”

“If a single statute reminds us of the worst of America, it is the Voting Rights Act, because it was and continues to be so necessary,” she added.

The 6-3 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, dealt another blow to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was enacted to preserve voting rights for Black Americans during the civil rights movement. Alito argued that Arizona's voting restrictions did not violate Section 2 of the act, which specifically prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race.

One of Arizona's new rules requires a voter's full ballot to be thrown out if cast outside their local precinct, preventing that person's voice from being heard in statewide or national contests if they make a mistake; the second limits the practice of assisting voters by collecting completed ballots and delivering them to precincts.

Kagan stated that “few laws are more vital in the current moment” than the 1965 legislation and slammed the majority, writing that “no statute has been treated worse by this Court in the last decade.”

The Supreme Court had already gutted key parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, arguing that “our country has changed” and the threat to minority voters has diminished, so states should be free to change their voting laws without prior federal approval.

The 2013 decision paved the way for Republicans to launch an ongoing assault on voting rights protections, which has only intensified since President Donald Trump's election loss in 2020.

On Thursday, writing for the court's dissenting liberals, which included Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Kagan expressed vehement opposition to the majority opinion, arguing that it will make American democracy less accessible to nonwhite voters.

“[E]fforts to suppress the minority vote continue, which no one would know from reading the majority opinion,” she said.

Since the Civil War, states have constantly devised new rules that are “mostly neutral on their face but discriminatory in operation, to keep minority voters away from the polls,” justifying the act’s “far-reaching goal” of ending such discrimination.

“What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness and protects against its baser impulses,” she wrote. “What is tragic is that the Court has harmed a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent.”

Kagan succinctly summarized the majority's argument, stating that the court "undermine[d] Section 2 and the rights it provides" by establishing "its own set of rules" that allow discrimination.

She charged her six colleagues with gross judicial overreach in her powerful conclusion:

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances..That is the broad statute enacted by Congress, and it is recognized in our previous decisions.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances..That is the broad statute enacted by Congress, and it is recognized in our previous decisions..However, today's majority weakens the law by reducing Section 2 to its preferred size.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances..That is the broad statute enacted by Congress, and it is recognized in our previous decisions..However, today's majority weakens the law by reducing Section 2 to its preferred size..The majority enacts a slew of extra-textual exceptions and considerations in order to weaken the Act and preserve laws like Arizona's.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances..That is the broad statute enacted by Congress, and it is recognized in our previous decisions..However, today's majority weakens the law by reducing Section 2 to its preferred size..The majority enacts a slew of extra-textual exceptions and considerations in order to weaken the Act and preserve laws like Arizona's..Whatever Congress may have desired, the majority has other plans.

The Court has always stated that it must interpret a statute in accordance with its text and that it lacks the authority to override congressional decisions..However, the majority of the population today disregards those options with reckless abandon..Section 2's language is as broad as it can get..It applies to any policy that "results in" disparities in voting opportunities for minorities..It forbids, without the need to demonstrate a bad motive, even ostensibly neutral laws that make voting more difficult for members of one race than for members of another, due to differences in their life circumstances..That is the broad statute enacted by Congress, and it is recognized in our previous decisions..However, today's majority weakens the law by reducing Section 2 to its preferred size..The majority enacts a slew of extra-textual exceptions and considerations in order to weaken the Act and preserve laws like Arizona's..Whatever Congress may have desired, the majority has other plans..

This Court has no authority to rewrite Section 2. Perhaps some believe that vote suppression is a relic of the past, and thus the need for a strong Section 2 has passed. But Congress has the authority to make that decision, and because it has not done so, this Court's duty is to apply the law as written.

As of May, Republican-led legislatures in 14 states had passed 20 restrictive voting measures, with another 60 bills in the works, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

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