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When Political Domination Becomes Racial Discrimination: NAACP v. McCrory and the Inextricable Problem of Race in Politics

Posted: 6 Nov 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

Atiba R. Ellis

West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: April 4, 2017

Abstract

In North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. McCrory, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina's 2013 omnibus voting law due to its discriminatory effect and the fact it was passed with an intent to abridge the ability of African Americans to vote. This decision represents a landmark victory for voting rights advocates against strict voter identification laws and other similar regulations that foster voter suppression. It also represents a remarkable and extraordinary use of the Arlington Heights doctrine to address the race or politics problem in election law. This Article examines the McCrory decision with an eye towards parsing out how the court arrived at this due care approach. It then confronts the uncertain future of McCrory considering the difficulties in distinguishing impermissible racial motives and permissible political motives, the uncertain judicial future of the post-Shelby County Voting Rights Act, and the academic literature disfavoring race-conscious remedies. The Article concludes optimistically by noting that whether McCrory represents a momentary victory in the larger attack against the Voting Rights Act or whether it stands as good law for the foreseeable future, the opinion offers a well-reasoned approach that accomplishes the ends of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act through offering a race-conscious intersectional approach grounded in the reality of voter suppression in North Carolina.

Keywords: voting rights, North Carolina, Voting Rights Act, NAACP v. McCrory, Fourteenth Amendment, Fifteenth Amendment

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Ellis, Atiba R., When Political Domination Becomes Racial Discrimination: NAACP v. McCrory and the Inextricable Problem of Race in Politics (April 4, 2017). South Carolina Law Review, Vol. 68, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3057679

Atiba Ellis (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

Box 6130
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

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