Recently, Justice Kavanaugh asserted that the Constitution empowers state legislatures — and only state legislatures — to set the rules for presidential elections. While Article 2, Section 1 says that state legislatures have a job to do, it’s not the only mention of voting in the Constitution.
Amendments 15, 19 and 26 protect voters from discrimination on multiple grounds: race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex and age. If a state’s voting rules discriminate on any of those grounds, everyone has the right to expect that courts will protect citizens against unconstitutional barriers to voting.
Elections this year have shown that many citizens who want to vote may be subject to unlawful discrimination. People of color stand in longer lines than white people when polling places are closed. Older frail people — a group composed mostly of women — cannot vote when Alabama refuses to allow citizens to vote from their cars at the curb. In Texas, older people can vote absentee, but younger people cannot unless they are disabled.
Upholding the Constitution is everyone’s job: legislators, judges, government officials and citizens. Maybe Justice Kavanaugh thinks state legislators can do the job alone, but everyone who cares about equality must reject that claim.