Battle of the Consent Decree

Those of you who are not serious voting rights nerds (the vast majority of the population) probably have no idea that there is an interesting case making it's way through the judicial food chain. At the U.S. Supreme Court it's case number 12-373, Republican National Committee v Democratic National Committee. You can read the filings of the two major parties using the links below.

RNC Cert Petition
DNC Opposition Brief

For those of you with no idea what all the legal mumbo-jumbo means, here's the skinny:

As stated in the RNC filing "For thirty years, through seven presidential and
fifteen congressional election cycles, petitioner Republican National Committee (“RNC”) has labored under a nationwi
de consent decree. The decree, originally entered in 1982 and modified by agreement in 1987, imposes restrictions and preclearance requirements on the RNC’s ability to engage in ballot integrity programs. The central purpose of the decree
is to prevent intimidation and suppression of minority voters."

Basically, the RNC is appealing to the Supreme Court to get out of having to comply with the consent decree that they were forced to enter into back in the '80s because of their egregious voter suppression activities. The consent decree has kept the Republican Party (in it's official capacity) from engaging in large scale "election integrity" programs that often have the effect (and frequently the intent) of suppressing the vote. For a great account of the back-story of the consent decree, I highly suggest reading The Politics of Voter Suppression, by Tova Wang.

Apparently a major political party not being able to engage in massive, coordinated voter suppression efforts doesn't sit well with some people, such as the "election integrity" (read: voter suppression) group True The Vote. I guess they didn't do their homework before making plans for their program, because now they're upset by the existence of the consent decree, which has been in effect for 3 decades.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, and ultimately decides to do away with the consent decree, that could mean a lot more work for those of us fighting to protect voting rights. Stay Tuned!

UPDATE! - SCOTUS Blog has listed this as one of their Petitions To Watch


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