And many liberals feared, especially after oral argument (PDF), that this Court's 5-4 conservative majority would use the opportunity to gut Section 5, especially given its disparate treatment of Southern jurisdictions, with the Chief Justice asking the NAACP's counsel "So is it your -- is it your position that today southerners are more likely to discriminate than northerners?" and Justice Scalia noting, "Wasn't Virginia the first State in the Union to elect a black governor?"
Today, however, the bullet was dodged, albeit on somewhat technical grounds. In an 8-1 opinion authored by the Chief Justice, with only Justice Thomas dissenting, the Court effectively rewrote parts of the Voting Rights Act to allow NAMUDNO to apply in federal court for a permanent "bailout" from the preclearance provisions based on a documented record of behaving itself in this realm, a remedy previously allowed only for states and counties as a whole, and chose not to reach the larger constitutional question.
June 22, 2009
"... For Now, Anyway."