National Journal desribes what it calls "The GOP Dilemma Over the Voting Rights Act":
...The Supreme Court is poised to turn over a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, likely kicking it back to Congress, adding another burden for the log-jammed legislature.Omigod -- "they risk being seen as indifferent or even hostile to minorities"? Why, that might hurt them in the upcoming midterm elections -- even though they've been seen as indifferent or even hostile to minorities for decades, and they've dominated congressional elections in eight of the last ten electoral cycles, while also dominating gubernatorial and state legislative races ever since a black guy got elected president.
It's particularly heavy baggage for Republicans. While Democrats and civil rights groups stand largely united behind the broadest interpretations of the Voting Rights Act, for Republicans it's a trickier matter. On one hand, they are eager to reach out to minority voters. They eagerly tout their charismatic, high-profile minority officeholders like Sens. Tim Scott or South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. If Congressional Republicans seem unwilling to rebuild the Voting Rights Act should the court curtail it, they risk being seen as indifferent or even hostile to minorities. On the other hand, the party's Tea Party wing is likely to revolt if the Republican House they elected tries to re-establish what many see as a federal overreach....
Are Republicans "eager to reach out to minority voters" -- and let's be honest, only some of them are -- because they actually want minority votes? It seems to me that the effort is primarily intended to gull swing voters, and also to rally the base by giving base voters the feeling that they, not liberals, are the truly enlightened. As Dave Weigel says, "You don't get a month of Herman Cain, Republican Front-Runner, without lots of white conservatives wanting to tear up 'the race card.' You don't get presidential buzz for Ben Carson -- Ben Carson! -- unless you appreciate this phenomenon."
Democrats and civil rights groups will try to restore the status quo ante if (when?) the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act -- but Republicans are not going to go along with a new law requiring preclearance of electoral decisions, in the states and jurisdictions currently covered by Section 5 or anywhere else. They're going to describe this as bureaucratic "big government." They're going to compare getting voting changes approved by the Justice Department (Eric Holder's Justice Department!) as similar to the process of getting tax-exempt status approved by the IRS -- nakedly politicized! I'm guessing they'll try to move the Overton window by arguing for a national voter ID law. On Fox and talk radio, you'll hear a lot about "reparations" and the New Black Panthers.
The National Journal piece does note that they'll probably try to put an African-American face on this effort:
One figure to watch is [South Carolina] Sen. [Tim] Scott. He was elected to Charleston's City Council in 1995, becoming the first black Republican elected to any office in the State since Reconstruction. A couple of years later the Clinton Justice Department sued the city trying to break it up its council into single-member districts to make it easier for minorities to be elected. At the time, Scott bristled at the move: "I don't like the idea of segregating everyone into smaller districts. Besides, the Justice Department assumes that the only way for African-Americans to have representation is to elect an African-American, and the same for whites. Obviously, my constituents don't think that's true." Scott could provide cover for Republicans who want to argue that times have changed and Section 5 can be safely curtailed.Yeah, that sounds about right -- and in the media you'll see a lot of black and brown Republicans (Thomas Sowell, Niger Innis, etc., etc.) making similar arguments.
The Court may kick this back to Congress, but it's not going anywhere after that.