Good for the Supreme Court for recognizing something Congress has long refused to acknowledge: America is not the same country it was back in the days of civil-rights marches and segregation.
That was the court’s basis for rolling back the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts observed that when the law was first written, America “could be divided into . . . [states] with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics.” But in 2013, “the nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.”
That explains how a law intended to guarantee equal access for minority voters at the polls has morphed into a system of racially gerrymandered legislative districts. It also explains some absurd applications, including in The Bronx — one of three city counties under federal oversight.
The Bronx came under the feds more than 40 years ago, partly in response to a statewide English literacy test that had kept down black and Latino voting. Today, the literacy test is gone, and nearly 80 percent of the Bronx’s representatives in the state and city legislatures are Latinos or African-Americans. Yet local election rules have remained under the federal thumb.