Like many Americans in 2013, I was glad to hear that the federal government would no longer be in the position of granting and not granting permission to autonomous states to change their voting laws as a result of the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision this week. Justice Roberts is right; to hold southerners of today to a standard established during our grandparents generation is not at all fair. Overall, this decision is good for our body of election laws as it allows border states to better ensure that only citizens are voting where illegal immigration runs rampant.
However, in light of the Fifteenth Amendment’s guarantee that “Congress shall have [the] power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation” by which, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It is worth asking whether it is within SCOTUS’ jurisdiction to overrule the Voting Rights Act. Does the Fifteenth Amendment lend the Court the power or ability to determine whether a voting law is narrowly applied or whether the methods of evaluation are outdated?
Without a doubt, the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 was a purely political gesture. No politician can afford to come off as bigoted in this day and age. Yet, the Fifteenth amendment, under its broad terms allows Congress to pass and enact such broad and unfair laws. This Amendment is so broadly written that if the federal government wanted to bus minorities into polling locations and provide them lunch, the Fifteenth Amendment would allow it to do so.
The question isn’t whether the law is fair or necessary or outdated. The question is whether, under the supreme law of the land, the Constitution allows Congress to pass such a law. If opponents of the law don’t like the voting rights Act, they should work to change it. While the left uses the Courts to achieve legislation they could never regularly pass, the right should be different. The Constitution shouldn’t be ignored, even when we don’t agree with decisions. SCOTUS exceeded its jurisdiction here and for that reason I cannot take pride in its outcome.