February 27, 2013 3:02PM

Thoughts from the Shelby County Arguments

Getting past all the politics and rhetoric, Chief Justice Roberts zeroed in on the heart of the case when he noted that the state with the worst ratio of black‐​to‐​white turnout and registration is Massachusetts and the best is Mississippi (third‐​best in registration). This case is not about whether racial discrimination still exists in America or even whether it is disproportionately found in the South (which it isn’t). It simply asks whether the “exceptional conditions” that the Supreme Court found to justify the “extraordinary remedy” of federal intrusion on state election administration in 1965 still exist today. By any measure, they do not — and if they did, Congress didn’t do its homework in 2006 to tailor the application of Section 5’s burdensome requirements to jurisdictions that allegedly engage in this systemic discrimination that is somehow Jim Crow’s equivalent. The justices were starkly divided today, but this case should be much easier than that.