3 winners and 3 losers from the just-completed Supreme Court term

“Roberts has spent much of his career crusading against voting rights, specifically the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the landmark civil rights law that ended Jim Crow practices disenfranchising Black voters and prohibiting race discrimination of all kinds in elections.

As a young Justice Department lawyer, Roberts fought unsuccessfully to convince President Ronald Reagan to veto an important 1982 amendment to the law, which overturned a previous Supreme Court decision making it very difficult to win Voting Rights Act lawsuits. As a justice, Roberts wrote the Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which neutralized much of the law. He also joined two other opinions severely weakening the rest of the law — the latter of which, Brnovich v. DNC, was decided on the last day of this term.

The practical impact of this trilogy is that the Voting Rights Act is barely alive. Under Brnovich, for example, states are likely to have carte blanche to roll back early voting and absentee voting, as well as other, similar innovations that became common in the last four decades. And most challenges to the latest wave of Republican voter suppression laws are likely to fail.”

“in a term gravid with extraordinarily aggressive arguments made by right-wing lawyers, conservatives and Republicans had an exceptionally good run. They convinced the Court to hobble the Voting Rights Act, to open a new line of attack on donor disclosure laws, to expand property rights, to attack unions, and to rewrite the rules governing when religious objectors are exempt from the law.

And that’s after just one term with a 6-3 Court. Next term, the Court will hear a case that could overrule Roe v. Wade.”

The devaluing of black property has led to the devaluing of black lives

“We found that after controlling for education, crime, walkability, and many other metrics you might find on Zillow, homes in black neighborhoods are devalued by 23 percent. About $48,000 per home, about $156 billion in lost equity. Now, that’s the money people use to start businesses and to send their kids to college. In fact, that would have paid for more than 4 million black-owned businesses, based on the average startup costs that blacks had to start businesses. They would have funded more than 8 million four-year degrees at a public institution. It’s the money that people use to uplift themselves.

So throughout history, black people have been denied housing opportunities and have been subjected to predatory lending and other unsavory practices that have really disenfranchised them. And so when these police incidents occur, a lot of this frustration comes from not having an ability to influence policy. And a lot of that starts with a lack of homeownership.”

“The devaluation goes beyond housing. We also did a study examining businesses in black communities. To get a sense of the quality, we scraped Yelp data from all businesses and compared those in black-majority communities and in white-majority spaces. We found a similar finding: Businesses owned by people of color in black-majority neighborhoods actually scored higher on Yelp, but received less revenue because of the neighborhood’s perception. People will bypass quality in black neighborhoods simply because it’s the black neighborhood.”