Two of the most prominent conservative legal scholars in the country, including one who has long been on a short list of potential Supreme Court nominees for Republican presidents, slammed the court’s ruling in the Voting Rights Act case in interviews with Nina Totenberg.
The decision cutting the heart out of the Voting Rights Act was also 5-to-4, but this time along more familiar lines, with Kennedy joining the court’s most conservative four justices. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the decision, siding with Shelby County, Ala., which challenged the law as unconstitutional. The Voting Rights Act’s formula determining which states are covered, he said, was based on old data and therefore treated the southern states unfairly and unequally.
Although the decision was hailed by many political conservatives, its reviews from academic and judicial conservatives were considerably less admiring.
Harvard Law professor Charles Fried, a former state Supreme Court justice who served as the Reagan administration’s advocate in the Supreme Court, thought the court’s decision was just wrong.
“Because we’re not there yet,” he says. “We’re not there yet, and the facts on the ground in Shelby County itself showed that.”
Stanford’s McConnell says the decision’s reasoning is just “made up.”
“There’s no requirement in the Constitution to treat all states the same,” he said. “It might be an attractive principle, but it doesn’t seem to be in the Constitution.”
McConnell is Michael McConnell, a former judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who has long been considered a front runner for a Republican Supreme Court nomination. He retired a couple years ago to go back to academia.