Georgia v. Ashcroft, the Voting Rights Act and Narratives of Change and Continuity in the American South
In 2003 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Georgia v. Ashcroft, a case involving the redistricting of Georgia's state Senate under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This paper traces the course of the Georgia litigation from the legislature through the Supreme Court, examining its impact on the future of retrogression analysis under Section 5 and its impact on the future of the section itself. In addition, it looks at the opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the context of competing claims regarding the progress, or lack of progress, in the racial politics of the South, claims which arose again and again in the course of the litigation. The author concludes that O'Connor's re-working of the Section 5 standards was an attempt, whether successful or not, to overcome an inherent paradox of minority voting rights in the contemporary South.