Now that the afterglow of yesterday's Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 has subsided a bit, I can't help but turn my attention back to the atrocity that is their decision on the Voting Rights Act. What a shameful day for our nation when giants like Rep. John Lewis have outlived the very advances they fought so hard and sacrificed so much for, forty-five years ago.
And yet. I've read, watched and listened to a fair amount of commentary on the ruling, and I have yet to hear anyone answer the following question (actually, I have yet to come across anyone who's even asking it):
Couldn't the Justice Department fix this by simply requiring every single state or county in the country to go through pre-clearance?Following the majority's own logic, Section 5 (pre-clearance) isn't the problem — it's just the formula outlined in Section 4 that's unconstitutional. So what if the formula were simply, If you're going to have an election, you have to pre-clear your plans with the DoJ?
Every state and county equal under the law. No bailouts (or bail-ins). No exceptions. Every single state subject to review, every cycle — the Secretary of State (or County Registrar of Voters, or wherever the buck stops for a given district) either 1) submits plans for pre-clearance, well enough in advance to give Justice time to review and rule; or 2) in subsequent election cycles, simply attests under penalty of perjury that no changes are being made, or outlines the proposed changes to the previously cleared plan.
I'm not a lawyer . . . I don't even play one on TV. And as much as I love the Constitution, I can't claim to be a constitutional scholar. So I don't know if this would be a potentially elegant solution, or an egregious over-reach by the Executive branch.
I can see some of the comments already: it would be expensive. Unwieldy. Slow. Complicated. A nightmare. Maybe all of those things are true. But none of them is reason not to do it, if it means safeguarding access to the vote for communities of color, non-native speakers of English, Native Americans, students, and the other groups disproportionately affected by election-year chicanery, gerrymandering, and outright fraud.
Surely there are Kossacks with the legal and constitutional knowledge to answer this question — or at least to proffer an educated opinion.
So how 'bout it? Is it possible? Or is there something I'm missing?