At the beginning of his final paragraph, Roberts is not only hypocritical, but exquisitely deceitful and cynical when he writes:
"Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [section] 2. We issue no holding on [section] 5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions. Such a formula is an initial prerequisite to a determination that exceptional conditions still exist justifying such an "extraordinary departure from the traditional course of relations between the States and the Federal Government.' "
The first sentence is almost surely a deliberate lie. The decision affects the constitutional ban on voting rights discrimination by making the Voting Rights Act unenforceable until Congress acts.
Hypocrisy Exposed As Too Timid Can Cover Ruthless Cynicism
To say there's "no holding" on section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is baldly disingenuous and hypocritical, since Roberts well knows that section 5 becomes inoperable without Section 2. Thomas says as much in his concurrence, which ends with this mild dissent:
"While the Court claims to "issue no holding on [section] 5 itself,"' its own opinion compellingly demonstrates that Congress has failed to justify 'current burdens' with a record demonstrating 'current needs.' " By leaving the inevitable conclusion unstated, the Court needlessly prolongs the demise of that provision. For the reasons stated in the Court's opinion, I would find [section] 5 unconstitutional." [emphasis added]
Purposefully of not, Thomas's disparagement of the hypocritical cover story gives some cover to the chief justice's deep underlying cynicism. Of course it is constitutionally correct for the court to nod to the ultimate authority of Congress (even as the court eviscerates that authority), but to make that nod to this Congress is less deference than mockery.
The Voting Rights Acts Works, That's Why We Don't Need It
In 2006, that Congress voted overwhelmingly -- 390-33 in the House, 98-0 in the Senate -- to renew the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. An amendment to shorten the renewal to 10 years lost 288-143 in the House. President Bush spoke with solemn pride of the act when he signed it, calling the bill "an example of our continued commitment to a united America where every person is valued and treated with dignity and respect."
Now the Supreme Court has vitiated the act in a craven decision, leaving it to Congress to fix before the next election. Is there anyone who believes the current Congress will act to repair the Voting Rights Act? Will it even bring a bill to a vote?
No wonder Howard Fineman calls Roberts, with more respect than Roberts has earned, "The shrewdest, most manipulative and radical politician in this city"."
The court's Voting Rights Act decision looks for all the world like intentional racial discrimination. So does the court's decision on affirmative action. But intent is hard to prove. Just as Roberts explained in 1981.