Justice Ginsburg Dissent In Shelby v. Holder Is a Big Middle Finger to the Conservative Majority

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a #crushing dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision Tuesday to strike down a critical element of the 1965 anti-discrimination Voting Rights Act, legislation which requires select states (all Southern) to check in with the Justice Department before changing voting laws. The legislation seeks to prevent discriminatory practices by these states against minorities.

Tuesday's decision was seen as a conservative and states-rights victory. SCOTUS ruled that Section 4 — the formula that determines which specific locations Section 5 applies to — is unconstitutional in light of current conditions.

Liberal Justice Ginsburg's gave the dissent aloud from the bench, a rare occurrence at the Court, and which more or less represents a major "F*ck You!" to the majority.

Here are here four amazing quotes from the Ginsburg dissent: 


1. "The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the [Voting Rights Act] has proven effective ... Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."


2. "When confronting the most constitutionally invidious form of discrimination, and the most fundamental right in our democratic system, Congress' power to act is at its height."


3. "Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court's opinion today. The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story. See supra, at 18–19. Without even identifying a standard of review, the Court dismissively brushes off arguments based on "data from the record," and declines to enter the "debat[e about] what [the] record shows"…One would expect more from an opinion striking at the heart of the Nation's signal piece of civil-rights legislation."


4. "Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake­ proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination."


You can read the full dissent here.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to remove language that was used without attribution to RH Reality Check. We apologize to our readers for this violation of our basic editorial standards. Mic has put in place new mechanisms, including plagiarism detection software, to ensure that this does not happen in the future.

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Chris Miles

Chris has worked for media outlets including the Associated Press and Stars and Stripes. He worked with the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, and with the Kentucky state legislature. He holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Louisville, and a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. He is originally from Lexington, Ky. Kentucky basketball occupies a majority of his free time.

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