The Voting Rights Cases

Supreme Court Review (1966).


Very few statutes can ever have been drafted with a warier eye to the prospect of litigation, or a keener intention to ward it off as long as possible, than the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was enacted, indeed, as a substitute for litigation, which had proved a sadly inadequate engine of reform. Care was taken, therefore, to ensure that the enterprise launched by the statute would be going before litigation could test it in the local federal courts, and ยง 14(b) hopefully designated the District Court for the District of Columbia as the only forum in which suit attacking the statute on a broad front could be brought. Yet Congress, in trying to escape the clutches of hostile courts, did not avoid the precipitate embrace of a sympathetic one: the Supreme Court of the United States. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 came to judgment there with extraordinary rapidity and under extraordinary conditions.

Yale Law School