Excerpted From: Quiana-Joy Ochiagha, We Shall Overcome Some Day ... but Not Today: Brnovich V. Democratic National Committee and the 21st Century Version of Jim Crow, 49 Southern University Law Review 463 (Spring, 2022) (164 Footnotes) (Full Document)


QuianaJoyOchiaghaIn America, voting is the cornerstone of democracy. Whether a person submits an absentee ballot within the comfort of their own home, or spends a few minutes alone in-person draped away from the world on election day, the right to vote has afforded many people the opportunity to contribute to society. However, for many years after the Reconstruction era, countless African Americans were subjected to Jim Crow laws that prohibited and intimidated them from voting, and ultimately infringing on their Fifteenth Amendment right. But, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”), African Americans and other people of color (“P.O.C.”) were granted the opportunity to exercise their right to vote without being subjected to voting intimidation or fear that their vote would not be counted. The implementation of this federal law removed decades of racial barriers and allowed a class of people to partake in the electoral process without their race or educational background hindering them. However, the euphoric feeling of blindly voting became jeopardized with the July 1, 2021, Supreme Court decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. The decision rendered in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee held that Arizona's laws requiring voting within a person's precinct and preventing ballot harvesting (absentee ballot) did not violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the prohibition of ballot harvesting was not motivated by a discriminatory purpose.

Part II of this casenote seeks to explore the historical development of cases similarly situated before the courts. Part III gives the reader a more in-depth view of the Brnovich case, its facts, and the Court's ultimate decision. Part IV provides a detailed analysis of the Court's reasoning and provides dissenting opinions as to why the case undermines the protections that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act afforded people of color.

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If a single statute represents the best of America, it is the Voting Rights Act because it marries the two great ideals of democracy and racial equality together. If a single statute reminds us of the worst of America, it is the Voting Rights Act because it was and remains so necessary. Brnovich represents the Section 2 safeguard of the Voting Rights Act becoming obsolete. Courts need to be careful in their rulings that allow local and state governments to attack the protections bestowed to people of color in the Voting Rights Act because doing so imperils America from reverting to her discriminatory past. The Supreme Court must uphold the fight for fair and equal voting representation because democracy depends on it.

J.D. Candidate, May 2022 Southern University Law Center and Fall 2021 NAACP Law Fellow.