The historic Voting Rights Act appeared to be in deep trouble Wednesday after the Supreme Court’s conservative justices argued during a racially charged debate that targeting the South for special scrutiny was no longer fair.
The unusually tense discussion split along ideological lines. Justices from the left and right took turns arguing the case — and arguing with one another over whether racism and racial discrimination remain problems.
At one point, Justice Antonin Scalia referred to the law as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” a phrase that irked Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who voiced strong objection earlier this week to a Texas prosecutor’s focus on defendants’ race. After Scalia spoke, she repeatedly pressed a lawyer for Alabama’s Shelby County to say whether “the right to vote is a racial entitlement.” He steered around the question.
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