SWLAW Blog | Faculty Features
July 2, 2019
Gowri Ramachandran Pens Op-Ed for Slate: "Why Didn’t the Democrats Talk About Minority Voting Rights During the Debates?"
Professor Gowri Ramachandran has authored an op-ed for Slate discussing the Supreme Court's ruling that partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts cannot be limited by federal courts. In light of the impact of this decision, which may potentially entrench incumbent power and harm the First Amendment rights of voters for years to come, Ramachandran holds 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to task for their failure to engage meaningfully on the matter of voting rights during the first round of presidential debates.
"It's not enough to demand neutrality. That leaves out the minority protections that are necessary given our nation's ugly history of violently enforced voter intimidation and suppression."
Despite the ruling, Ramachandran encourages hopefulness: "those who care about democracy and fairness need not despair," emphasizing that reformers have other avenues still open to them, which Justice Roberts himself acknowledged.
However, Ramachandran cautions that neutrality in electoral maps does not amount to fairness. "It's not enough to demand neutrality. That leaves out the minority protections that are necessary given our nation's ugly history of violently enforced voter intimidation and suppression." Addressing these challenges head-on, Ramachandran offers several thoughtful solutions aimed to ensure fairness in voting rights for minority racial groups. Among those solutions, she prescribes that "Congress could...define what' equal opportunity' in voting means. Congress could clearly state that equal opportunity means equal competitiveness. What this means is ending harmful cracking and packing and replacing it with line-drawing that seeks to give historically marginalized minority voters, to the extent possible, the same political clout other groups get."