The Supreme Court has just demonstrated starkly how far to the right it has been tugged by the Reagan-Bush appointees of the past decade. By a 6-3 vote it turned its back on a long, unbroken line of precedents regarding the Voting Rights Act -- and rebuffed the Bush Justice Department's own interpretation of the law in the process.
Section 5 of the act requires subdivisions in states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to "pre-clear" changes in elections laws and procedures that could have a discriminatory effect. States, cities and counties could not change the manner of voting, candidacy requirements and district lines, nor could they transfer important powers among officials, without first submitting their plans to the attorney general for scrutiny.
Some changes of the last sort are arguable as to their discriminatory effect, but the courts have uniformly agreed with the attorney general's right to pre-clear (or veto) them. The Justice Department has pre-cleared almost all submitted to it. But the Supreme Court now has said this constitutes a burden and an interference with federalism.