Yesterday, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and ruled that Alabama could be sued over its racially gerrymandered congressional maps. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion for the court, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, as well as alleged attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh.
I cannot emphasize enough how shocked I was by the decision. This Supreme Court has spent the last decade systematically dismantling the Voting Rights Act, whittling down the most important piece of legislation in American history to a mere husk of what Congress intended. John Roberts has been the VRA’s chief antagonist during this time, ruling against it again and again. He voted to remove one of its core features in 2012’s Shelby County v. Holder; he voted to limit its applicability in 2021’s Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee; and he voted to ignore it all together in certain circumstances in 2019’s Rucho v. Common Cause. Here, he had a chance to deliver the coup de grâce to the act by declaring it functionally unconstitutional. But he blinked.