The Biden presidency, which has distinguished itself for having assembled a diverse and inclusive cabinet, starting with its African American and Asian female vice president, could paradoxically be the backdrop to one of the most discriminatory rulings the Supreme Court has delivered in recent decades.
Of course Biden and Harris have nothing to do with it, except because they were, with their victory driven by an unprecedented turnout, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. After the results of the last presidential elections, the Republican party has proposed 253 different laws to make voting more difficult in 43 states, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.
The sentence you have just read is the impartial formulation of the concept; to say things as they really are, however, it should be more or less written like this: the republican party has proposed 253 laws to make voting the most difficult for minorities.
The case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, brought before the Supreme Court this Tuesday, which is expected to rule by this summer. According to Linda Greenhouse, a columnist and professor at Yale Law School, this is probably the most important civil rights case that the current occupants of the nine seats of the Court will judge in their term.
The case concerns Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the one signed by Lyndon Johnson under the eyes of Dr. King, already heavily curtailed in 2013. Section 2 prohibits any law that “involves a denial or diminution of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote because of race or color ”.
Arizona, whose majority in Parliament is Republican, has introduced two laws in the odor of violating Section 2: one prohibits anyone other than a postman or family member from collecting votes by mail, and the second requires that all ballots be deposited in the wrong seat, ie not the one the voter belongs to, are thrown away. The latest ruling from the Court of Appeals found both laws to violate the Voting Rights Act, and so Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich takes the case to the Supreme Court.
The prosecutor argues that, since they limit the vote of everyone and not just someone, these measures still guarantee equal rights to citizens. The DNC replies that this is true on paper, but not in reality. For example, non-white citizens are concentrated in urban areas, where polling stations often change locations, and the likelihood of them casting a vote in the wrong seat is twice that of whites.
Likewise, outside of Arizona’s two most populous counties, only one-fifth of Native Americans have mail at home, and the remaining four-fifths would have to travel up to two hours by car to get to a mailbox if their vote doesn’t. it can no longer be collected and brought to the polls by the volunteers of the many associations dedicated to guaranteeing the vote to minorities.
In short, prosecutor Brnovich asks the Supreme Court to establish stricter (or permissive, depending on the perspective) criteria for considering a discriminatory law, and this decision will make jurisprudence in any case, in one sense or another.
Given the current composition of the Supreme Court, it is not difficult for the Republicans of Arizona to take home the victory. The President of the Court himself, John Roberts, in the 1980s argued the exact same reasons as Brnovich, suggesting that violations of the Voting Rights Act should not be “too easy to prove”.
A republican victory in this case would be a door that opens wide due to the avalanche of laws proposed in recent months that aim to reduce the political power of minorities.
A U.S. president’s footprint on judges and courts may be, as Republicans have understood much better than their counterpart, his most important and enduring legacy, and it will be for Donald Trump as well.
Contrary to what he would have liked, his nominees proved to be anything but his faithful, blaming him on all personal matters, from the tax returns he did not want to make public to the causes to overturn the electoral result. But in legal matters, even by virtue of their very young age, its three judges could echo the conservative principles of the former president for many years to come.