Bench Memos

Virginia’s Non-Racist Voting Law

The New York Times has an op-ed today by the ACLU’s Dale E. Ho, titled “Virginia’s Racist Voting Law” and tied in with today’s oral argument before the Virginia state supreme court, in which a challenge is being heard to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order reenfranchising 206,000 felons.  Hans von Spakovsky and I have elsewhere explained why the order is bad policy and bad law and politically sleazy to boot, and why it makes perfect sense to require those who have broken the law to show they have turned over a new leaf before letting them participate in the solemn enterprise of making laws for everyone else. 

So today I’ll make just one point in response to Mr. Ho’s claim that the 1971 law currently on the books in Virginia is somehow tainted with the racist remarks made at a state constitutional convention in 1902.  If there were any evidence that this was true, then — as Mr. Ho himself acknowledges in the op-ed — the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that such a law would be unconstitutional, and the ACLU (or the Justice Department, or the Democratic Party, or any one of many other well-funded left-wing and politically savvy entities) would be only too happy to challenge it in court. Virginia, after all, is a swing state that’s rich in electoral votes.  But no such lawsuit has been brought — proving that there really is no such evidence.

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