The ruling, Justice Sotomayor writes in dissent, “entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted.”
Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—June 11, 2018
Civil rights groups are calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday upholding Ohio’s practice of purging voters from the rolls “a setback for voting rights.”
In the 5-4 decision (pdf), the court found that the state, which drops people from the rolls if they don’t vote and then don’t respond to notices to confirm their residency, does not violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
“A state violates the failure-to-vote clause only if it removes registrants for no reason other than their failure to vote,” Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion, argued.
According to Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, however, the decision not only “gets the law wrong,” but also “sends the wrong message to state officials.”
The ruling, she argued, “ignores the long history of purge programs in our country which have been used to unfairly and disproportionately target minority voters.”
Justice Sotomayor, who joined with the liberal justices in dissenting and also wrote a separate dissenting opinion, spoke to that past as well.
She argued that the ruling from the conservative justices “entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.”
She added: “Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by. Today’s decision forces these communities and their allies to be even more proactive and vigilant in holding their states accountable and working to dismantle the obstacles they face in exercising the fundamental right to vote.”
Reminder: In #Husted, the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions decided to abandon its longstanding position that the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act prohibit techniques like Ohio’s voter purge. #SCOTUS
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) June 11, 2018
This case is a stark reminder that the Trump administration wants to turn back the clock on voting rights.
For decades, DOJ considered these purges to be illegal. Under the Trump administration, it flipped sides to support Ohio’s unnecessary restrictions on the right to vote.
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 11, 2018
Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos, which led the legal team challenging Ohio’s voter-removing practice, cautioned against other states seeing the ruling as green light to engage in similar voter purging efforts.
“The fight does not stop here,” he declared. “If states take today’s decision as a sign that they can be even more reckless and kick eligible voters off the rolls, we will fight back in the courts, the legislatures, and with our community partners across the country.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
You have used up your free articles for this month. To continue reading click here to login or subscribe.