This Note argues that the majority in Ashcroft have left courts with an unadministerable standard-not so much for reasons that Justice Souter articulated in his dissent, but rather because the Court provided no guidance on navigating around the myriad of factors in the convoluted totality analyses. In the face of this uncertainty, lower courts will rely increasingly on the proportionality standard of Johnson v. De Grandy, which marked the midpoint in the judicial shift from Justice Brennan's worldview to Justice O'Connor's world-view. Part I examines two cases after Ashcroft which represent different degrees of racial vote dilution: Shirt v. Hazeltine and Session v. Perry. In Shirt, American Indians in South Dakota suffered a history of voting discrimination, racially polarized voting, and a dearth of safe districts; while in Session, Blacks and Latinos in Texas at least possessed a larger proportion of safe districts. What emerges from the comparison, then, is the tendency of proportionality to neutralize history and polarization. Through other post-Ashcroft cases, Part II teases out the differences (i) between influence districts as injury and remedy and (ii) between a jurisdiction's Section 5 and Section 2 obligations—details closely related to how proportionality is measured. Finally, Part III discusses substantive representation, the ideology that drove much of Ashcroft's analysis. Framing it as a symptom of nonpolarized voting, this Note concludes that endorsement of substantive representation as a device to achieve colorblindness will obscure the causes of polarization.
Felix B. Chang,
After Georgia V. Ashcroft: The Primacy of Proportionality,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol11/iss1/10