Report on Today’s Voting-Rights Hearing

by Roger Clegg

As advertised, the Senate Judiciary Committee had its hearings today on an execrable bill to negate last year’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Michael Carvin and Abigail Thernstrom did a splendid job in explaining why this legislation is both unnecessary and unwise. But the most entertaining part was when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) said, and I paraphrase only slightly: “I’d like to make two points. First, we should advance in the spirit of bipartisanship. Second, the reason we need to advance is because of a 5-4 decision by Republican judges which is typical of other 5-4 decisions by Republican judges lately where they are trying to stack the electoral deck in favor of Republicans. And I’m not alone in feeling this way: Jeffrey Toobin, Linda Greenhouse, and Norm Ornstein all agree with me.” Despite this eloquent rhetoric, the hearings suggested that none of the Republicans on the Committee is persuaded that this legislation is a good idea.

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