The Washington Post today editorializes that Congress should pass the “sensible compromise” that has been proposed to “fix the Voting Rights Act.” This is the bad bill that was unveiled earlier this year, ostensibly to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Shelby County v. Holder, which declared unconstitutional the coverage provision of Section 5 of the Act.
But it is a good thing that this bill has gone nowhere. The Supreme Court’s decision was right, and there is no need in 2014 for Section 5 at all — that is, there is no need to treat any jurisdictions today like they are 1965 Mississippi. In any event, the rest of the Voting Rights Act is still available where there is actual discrimination, and the Obama administration and others are, for good or ill, aggressively using those provisions (they won a case in Wisconsin last week, and have brought lawsuits against, among others, Texas and North Carolina, too). What plaintiffs are unhappy about is that the burden of proof is on them to prove discrimination, but that’s the way every other civil-rights law works.