The “crown jewel” of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been called “one of the most effective statutes ever enacted.” However, in 2013 the Supreme Court famously gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. Nearly a decade later, in Allen v. Milligan, the Court is now signaling that Section 2, the last remaining core provision of the Voting Rights Act, could be on the chopping block. With Milligan, the Court may be preparing to inject race-neutrality into Section 2, which could destroy the vestiges of the onetime “super-statute.”
This Commentary places Milligan within the broader scope of antidiscrimination law, tracing Supreme Court jurisprudence in public accommodations, education, affirmative action, employment law, and voting rights. Across all these areas, the Court has steadily moved away from the race-conscious antisubordination principle, and towards the race-neutral anticlassification principle. This trend has accelerated in recent years, potentially priming the Court to embrace Alabama’s race-neutral arguments in Milligan, and fully dismantle the Voting Rights Act.