Justice Elena Kagan decries the Supreme Court's 'tragic' voting rights decision in scathing dissent

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Supreme Court.
Supreme Court. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan penned a powerful dissent following the court's Thursday 6-3 vote to uphold Arizona's controversial voting restrictions, declaring the ruling to undermine the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. She was joined in her rebuke by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Thursday's ruling narrows the "only remaining section" of the Voting Rights Act, section 2, which allows for legal challenges to voting changes that put minority voters at a disadvantage, NPR and NBC News report. Critics argued that the Arizona voting measures at the center of Thursday's case did exactly that, despite the court's majority ruling against such an assertion.

"What is tragic here is that the court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to American's greatness, and protects against its basest impulses," Kagan writes. "What is tragic is that the court has damaged a statute designed to bring about 'the end of discrimination in voting.'"

Kagan claims the court has "no right" to remake section 2, and that efforts to weaken the 1965 law will spawn a "generation of voter suppression laws." "Maybe some think that vote suppression is a relic of history — and so the need for a potent section 2 has come and gone. ... But Congress gets to make that call," Kagan writes. "That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this court." Read more at NPR.

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