Update III: NAACP LDF Director-Counsel John Payton: "The entire thrust of LDF's argument was that Section 5 remains critical to our democracy and, however grudgingly, the Court acknowledges that in its opinion today. In an unusually harmonious opinion, today's decision upholds the constitutionality of an essential core protection in our democracy. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act protects and shields the rights of minority voters from discrimination. Section 5 has long been symbolic of our nation's long and unsteady march toward greater political equality. Without its protections, our nation would unnecessarily face the grave risk of significant backsliding and retrenchment in the fragile gains that have been made."
Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU: "For more than 40 years, Section 5 has been a critical element of perhaps the most successful civil rights statute this country has ever enacted. As Chief Justice Roberts recognized, the Voting Rights Act has been instrumental in reducing voting discrimination, increasing minority voter registration and multiplying the number of minority officeholders throughout the nation. But, as Congress recognized when it reenacted Section 5 only three years ago, voting discrimination is sadly not a relic of the past and Section 5 therefore continues to play a vital role in ensuring that all citizens have an equal right to participate in the political process."
Update II: Voting Rights Act Upheld, opinion here. Narrow 8-1 ruling preserves Section Five.
Update: SCOTUSblog LiveBlogs SC Opinions and Orders at 9:00 A.M. Central Time.
One week left in the U.S. Supreme Court's term and huge cases remain that will spotlight the problems with rightwing jurisprudence.
See Walter Dellinger, Linda Greenhouse and Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. Perhaps the most anticipated case: Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder.
To get an idea of the GOP incoherence and hostility to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, check out An Outdated Law in National Review Online by Abigail Thernstrom.
Thernstrom says "[p]olitical questions should be resolved in the open through the political process," but fails to mentions that the 2006 congressional reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act is what the GOP wants overturned by the Court.
As for present-day voter obstruction which Thernstrom fails to mention, she notes vaguely, "And sad to say, the whole issue of registration and ballot fraud has become one that splits Americans along party lines."
Now, why would that be? Because the GOP Can't Win Without Suppressing Votes, and the Party has no compunction over obstructing and suppressing nonGOP-voting Americans.
The decision is unpredictable. A five-four decision either way looks possible, though the case could be decided on a question of Congressional authority with liberal-rightwing votes scattered.
One thing is certain, the civil rights community is worried.