With Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the already-biased Supreme Court will take a sharper turn to the far right. This means that many more areas of economic, social, and civic life will go to the states to control, even after Democrats win back the US Congress on November 6. State legislatures as well as governorships will be the last line of defense against destructive and regressive judicial decisions, so it’s more important than ever before to fight for Democratic control of the states.
The new and evil Supreme Court will probably roll back the crucial hard-fought constitutional rights to same-sex marriage and abortion. It could overturn ObamaCare and continue turning a blind eye to the big money corrupting politics. And worst of all for our democracy, voting rights will be further undermined by racist Republicans.
Republican-controlled states were emboldened to enact voter suppression laws because of the far-right Supreme Court’s failure to protect the Voting Rights Act. For 100 years after the 15th Amendment was passed, black people were prevented from voting by both state and local rules. 1965’s Voting Rights Act changed this all fundamentally — states could no longer use literacy tests or poll taxes to suppress voter registration and voting by minorities. The law also required the states with the very worst legacies of blatant voting discrimination to clear all their voting rules alterations with the federal government.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was a huge success. In just a few decades, the voter registration rates for black people living in the South skyrocketed (from 31% to 73%), as did numbers of black elected officials in America (from under 500 to over 10,000). More congressional reauthorizations later on expanded protections for the language-minority communities. The once-great Justice Department and the federal courts kept over 3,000 discriminatory voting rules laws from being implemented.
Despite the huge success of the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court foolishly gutted it in their shameful 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, by invalidating federal review of the changes to state voting laws. The faulty and dishonest reasoning used by Chief Justice John Roberts’ was that federal review was now unnecessary, since “the Nation is no longer divided” between those with and without any recent history of voter suppression, a statement so obviously untrue it makes it unclear whether Justice Roberts had his head stuck in the sand or truly wanted minorities to not be able to vote. He said that despite the fact that after 2010, half of the states (nearly all under racist Republican rule) passed scores of laws which made it much harder to for Americans citizens to vote.
The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation means the court will continue ignoring voter suppression on the federal level, so each state must ensure that all American citizens have free and legitimately fair access to elections.
The Supreme Court has demonstrated that it’s not fighting for voting rights anymore. As the Supreme Court sprints to the right, more and more power rests with the states to set fair policies on issues that affect everyone living in this country. In the future, the battle must be fought at the state level, by wisely electing progressive state legislators.