(Week of 6/22/2013) The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act — eliminating the provision that determined which states needed pre-clearance of changes in voting laws — was made narrowly. The Tuesday announcement found justices divided five to four. The public, in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, leans in the other direction. 47% think the Voting Rights Act is still necessary; 39% say it is not. There were 15 states covered by the pre-clearance provision. The Court would allow pre-clearance, but struck down the method by which the determination of which states required pre-clearance was made.
Opinion of the Voting Rights Act is a matter of partisanship. Just as the justices divided along ideological lines, so do Americans. By 72% to 18%, Democrats still think the Voting Rights Act is necessary; by 64% to 25%, Republicans say it is not. The country is also clearly split by race: 72% of African-Americans, but only 43% of whites, say the Act is still necessary.
Young adults support the law; so do those 65 and older, most of whom remember the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Those between 30 and 64 are divided.
Monday, the Court sent back to a lower court a case involving the use of affirmative action by the University of Texas, asking the court to see if diversity in admissions could be achieved without the use of affirmative action. Americans are more likely to oppose than to support affirmative action. Just about a third say they are in favor of it; 41% oppose its use.
Again, there are partisan and racial differences. 69% of Republicans oppose the use of affirmative action; Democrats are in favor, 55% to 18%. Whites oppose its use; African-Americans are in favor. But the support of some minorities for affirmative action is dependent on whether they think affirmative action is in their interest, with change in opinion among Hispanics especially great. On the general question, Hispanics in the Economist/YouGov Poll opposed affirmative action 42% to 23%, with many undecided. Asked about affirmative action for “racial and ethnic minorities,” Hispanic approval rises 15 points: 38% then approve, 37% do not. Whites are opposed to affirmative action in both cases.
Photo source: Press Association