The author of this article is not a constitutional law scholar, and the opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the author alone.
The Supreme Court of the United States heard argument last week on an appeal by Shelby County, Alabama which challenged the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (the “VRA”). The part of the VRA in question requires certain parts of the country, parts with a history of racial discrimination, to submit proposed changes to their voting procedures to the federal government to be reviewed before they may be changed. (See South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301 (1966)(“After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment, Congress might well decide to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims.”))
Review of the VRA calls requires consideration of two Constitutional tests: the ancient and well-respected rational basis test and the “congruence and proportionality” test which was only announced by the Supreme Court in 1990. It is the latter of the two tests which, especially in the context of Shelby County v. Holder, implicates serious Constitutional problems.