As the Supreme Court begins its 2012 term Monday, two cases loom ominously large for civil rights advocates.
As the Supreme Court begins its 2012 term Monday, two cases loom ominously large for civil rights advocates who fear that the Roberts court is itching to prematurely declare victory in the long legal war against racial discrimination. One, which the court is expected to accept for review although it hasn't done so yet, involves a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The other concerns a program at the University of Texas that allows race to be considered in admissions decisions.
Like the challenge to the constitutionality of President Obama's healthcare law, these cases will test the commitment of the court's conservatives, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in particular, to judicial restraint.
Legal conservatives abhorred "Obamacare," and they are equally critical of both affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act's requirement that states with a history of racial discrimination in voting "pre-clear" their election procedures with the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington. Such extraordinary measures to protect African Americans and other minorities may have been necessary in the past, the argument goes, but racial progress (symbolized for some by the election four years ago of a black president) requires an end to such initiatives and a reaffirmation of the ideal of a "colorblind" Constitution.