Federal Courts and Nominations

Chief Justice Roberts, Voting Rights, And Campaign Finance: Easier to Donate, Harder to Vote

“Blockbuster cases are likely to return to the Court, which could put the Roberts Court front and center in the midst of the presidential election in 2016.”


Washington, DC – One week after the conclusion of a $3.6 billion midterm congressional election in which a number of states enforced laws that make it harder for citizens to vote, and a day before the Court hears the latest in a string of voting rights cases in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, Constitutional Accountability Center today is releasing the latest Snapshot in its “Roberts at 10” project, examining John Roberts’s first nine Terms as Chief Justice of the United States: Roberts at 10: Easier to Donate, Harder to Vote


Today’s Snapshot looks at Chief Justice Roberts’s approach to cases addressing campaign finance and voting rights.  The bottom line is simple: in case after case—and even as the right to vote is explicitly protected by the language of the Constitution—Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative colleagues have made it easier to donate, but harder to vote. CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans, author of today’s Snapshot, said, “This is one area of the law where Chief Justice Roberts’s project to promote judicial restraint has plainly failed to date, and the reason is clear: Roberts has pursued a slash-and-burn expedition to undo critical aspects of our democracy.”


Read the new “Roberts at 10” snapshot and an excerpt here: http://theusconstitution.org/sites/default/files/briefs/Roberts-at-10-Easier-to-Donate-Harder-to-Vote.pdf 


Over the course of his nine years as Chief Justice, John Roberts has transformed our system of democracy.  As he enters his tenth year as Chief Justice, a new set of precedent-setting cases are on the horizon.   In the run up to the 2014 elections, the Court stayed injunctions against Texas’ onerous voter identification law, Ohio’s cutback of early voting, as well as parts of North Carolina’s omnibus voter-suppression law, while handing a victory to plaintiffs who argued that it would be irresponsible to allow Wisconsin to roll out its voter identification law so close to Election Day.  One or more of these blockbuster voting rights cases are likely to return to the Court, and together with a host of campaign finance cases moving through the lower courts, could put the Roberts Court front and center in the midst of the presidential election in 2016…. There is no constitutional right that is guaranteed in more provisions of the Constitution than the right to vote, but in Roberts’s view, the right to contribute is on par with the right to vote.




Additional Resources:


Roberts at 10: The Evolving Story of John Roberts and Congress’s Commerce Clause and Spending Clause Powers: http://theusconstitution.org/sites/default/files/briefs/Roberts-at-10-Evolving-Story-of-John-Roberts-federal-power.pdf 


Roberts at 10 Introductory Snapshot: A Look at the First Decade of John Roberts’s Tenure as Chief Justice: 



“Roberts at 10” experts available for interviews: CAC President Doug Kendall, Appellate Counsel Brianne Gorod, and Civil Rights Director David Gans.




Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.