Change has come to America.
Two key rulings this week by the United States Supreme Court rulings on Section 4 of the Civil Rights Voting Act in Shelby County v. Holder and Fisher v. University of Texas are momentous steps forward to fulfilling the dream of both Martin Luther King Jr. and all Americans that “One day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed…that all men are created equal.” Today, the Supreme Court recognized the enormous progress made toward voting equality in the United States since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. The Court rightly decided that the statutory standards used decades ago to subject democratically-elected state legislatures to second-guessing by unelected federal bureaucrats no longer survives constitutional scrutiny.
The Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional goes a long way toward achieving equality for all Americans, regardless of where they live. The founding values of Liberty, Justice, and Freedom find their highest and most crucial expression at the ballot box, and in a free society each voter must be guaranteed the right to know that the integrity of any election is without question, and that the vote they cast will not be valued equally with one cast fraudulently. While numerous mistakes of the previous century have slowly been rectified over the intervening decades, the requirements of Section 4 have outlived their usefulness, as they have achieved their desired result.
The preclearance portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited certain states from making any changes to election laws and procedures without gaining official authorization from either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three judge panel in the D.C. District Court. The law has been used to block voter identification laws and initiatives to hold non-partisan elections in recent years.
The decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case involving race-based college admissions and affirmative action policy, effectively sent the case back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration, a ruling that gives a limited win for those who want a truly colorblind society.
A thoughtful analysis on the ruling comes from The Heritage Foundation: “Texas adopted a plan in the mid-1990s that automatically admitted Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school class to all state-funded universities. Following a 2003 Supreme Court decision that authorized schools to consider race or ethnicity as a “plus factor,” the University of Texas began subjecting applicants for the remaining spots to a holistic review that included preferences for underrepresented minorities. Abigail Fisher, a white applicant, challenged the university’s consideration of race after her application for admission was denied.
The Court ruled that the lower courts were too deferential to the university’s judgment upon reviewing its admissions plan. The Court has previously stated that racial classifications are constitutional so long as they pass strict scrutiny review, which requires that the university prove that the classification is “narrowly tailored to further compelling governmental interests.” “On this point,” the Court held that the university is entitled to “no deference.” The Court noted that strict scrutiny review must not be “strict in theory but feeble in fact.” Fisher’s case will head back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for this more searching examination.”
America’s ethnic minorities have excelled in higher office. Black Americans in particular have fulfilled the intention of the Voting Rights Act, taking greater roles of prominence in government culminating with the election of President Obama in 2008. The role of black Americans in society has never been more outstanding, more far-reaching and more impactful than it is right now, and their contributions to education, culture and achievement stand in testament to the promise of America.
Hispanics are a rising force in American culture and politics. With the election of Senator Ted Cruz (TX), Senator Marco Rubio (FL), Governor Susana Martinez (NM) and Bryan Sandoval (NV), Hispanics have made their voices heard at the highest levels of government, putting to final rest any questions of equality or electoral viability.
Senator Cruz had the most insightful analysis on the ruling today, declaring “For decades, voters in various states, counties and boroughs have been punished for the sins others committed in a bygone era. Washington has treated whole segments of this nation as guilty until proven innocent. Ideological bureaucrats have used this law to exact a form of racial justice on their presumed enemies while ignoring the country’s demands for basic election integrity measures. Thankfully, the Court stripped Washington of a power that was only being used as a weapon today.
“An active electorate is the key to a healthy, representative republic. It is our responsibility to engage, serve and question our election systems. Today the average voter was returned an immense power in the American experiment. God help us if we do not use it wisely.”
With their rulings in two decisions, the Supreme Court has fulfilled the promise of America and made the country more Just and Equal.