State's Rights, Last Rites, and Voting Rights

Citation data:

47 Connecticut Law Review 481 (2014)

Publication Year:
Usage 117
Downloads 100
Abstract Views 17
Repository URL:;
Fuentes-Rohwer, Luis; Charles, Guy-Uriel
Digital Repository @ Maurer Law
voting rights; Voting Rights Act; Section 5; racial discrimination; Shelby County v. Holder; Civil Rights and Discrimination; Election Law
article description
There are two ways to read the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County Alabama v. Holder: as a minimalist decision or as a decision that undermines the basic infrastructure of voting rights policy, law, and jurisprudence. In this Article, we present the case for reading Shelby County as deeply destabilizing. We argue that Shelby County has undermined three assumptions that are foundational to voting rights policy, law, and jurisprudence. First, the Court has generally granted primacy of the federal government over the states. Second, the Court has deferred to Congress particularly where Congress is regulating at the intersection of race and voting. Third, the Court and Congress have understood that racial discrimination is a problem and have operated from a similar conception of what racial discrimination means. Shelby County undermines all three assumptions. We explore what this means for voting rights policy, law, and jurisprudence going forward.