Voting Rights—and Wrongs: The Elusive Quest for Racially Fair Elections

Book Forum
July 9, 2009
12:00PM to 2:00PM EDT
Featuring the author Abigail Thernstrom, Vice-Chair, United States Commission on Civil Rights, with comments by Roger Clegg, President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity. Moderated by Roger Pilon, Director, Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act is the crown jewel of American civil rights legislation; its passage marked the death knell of the Jim Crow South. But that was the beginning, not the end, of an important debate on race and representation in American democracy. When is the distribution of political power racially fair? Who counts as a representative of black and Hispanic interests? The Court, the Justice Department, and Congress have collaborated in segregating American politics with race-driven districting to protect black and Hispanic candidates from white competition. Meanwhile, states and counties across the nation have had their methods of election put into federal receivership, in effect. Has the integration of American politics demanded such an extraordinary use of federal power? And does it still today? Author Abigail Thernstrom, whom Shelby Steele has called “simply the best writer and thinker we have on voting rights in America,” will discuss the myriad of complex issues that swirl around the interpretation and enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No other race-related public policy has done more to shape America’s racial landscape—for good and for ill.