The Next Big Voting-Rights Fight

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) (C) speaks as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) (R) and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund President and General Counsel Thomas Saenz (L) listen during a news conference in front of the Supreme Court on Dec. 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus held the news conference on the day the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Evenwel v. Abbott. CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) (C) speaks as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) (R) and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund President and General Counsel Thomas Saenz (L) listen during a news conference in front of the Supreme Court on Dec. 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus held the news conference on the day the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Evenwel v. Abbott. CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

Disenfranchised

By EMILY BAZELON and JIM RUTENBERG 

DEC. 31, 2015 New York Times

Over the past year, The New York Times Magazine has chronicled the long campaign that led to the Supreme Court’s 2013 nullification of the Voting Rights Act’s most powerful provision — its Section 5 — and the consequences that decision has had for minority voters. As I’ve written in our Disenfranchised series, the gutting of Section 5 facilitated an onslaught of restrictive new laws that made voting disproportionately harder for minorities across the country, marking the biggest setback to minority voting rights in the half-century since President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard a new case, Evenwel v. Abbott, that could also have a significant effect on minority political power — specifically, Hispanic voting power. Evenwel stems from a case first instigated in Texas by the same conservative group — the Project on Fair Representation — that helped bring about the decision gutting Section 5 in 2013. Like all of these big election cases, the issues involved are complicated, which may explain why Evenwel has drawn less media attention than it deserves; it does not reduce easily into sound bites. But the Court’s decision in Evenwel could be among the most important developments in politics in 2016, and well beyond. This series would not be complete for 2015 without a review of the case. My colleague Emily Bazelon and I have done our best to break it down as simply as possible, trading off segments to explain the main legal questions at play, the potential consequences and the likely outcomes. A decision is expected by June of 2016.

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