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The Post-Shelby County World

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I’ve talked about the decision before, but I don’t think I’ve quoted the crucial passage from Judge Motz’s opinion ruling North Carolina’s racial gerrymander unconstitutional in full. I should! So here you go:

After years of preclearance and expansion of voting access by 2013 African American registration and turnout rates had finally reached near-parity with white registration and turnout rates. African Americans were poised to act as a major electoral force. But, on the day after the Supreme Court issued Shelby County v. Holder, eliminating preclearance obligations, a leader of the party that newly dominated the legislature (and the party that rarely enjoyed African American support) announced an intention to enact what he characterized as an “omnibus” election law. Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, on a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.

In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.

Obviously, the Supreme Court that made this possible is not going to remedy the problem, and it’s a huge issue for American democracy.

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