Op-Ed: Why book bans and voter suppression go hand in hand
From the time of his election as president of the Harvard Law Review in 2004 until his recent retirement, Lawrence Lessig has kept a blog, called “The Good Men Project,” chronicling the trials and victories of two of the most influential and most famous law blogs of our time.
Lessig’s analysis of the current presidential race, as he sees it, can be summed up in an observation that he makes during his blog piece, “The First Amendment Isn’t Over.” But one of Lessig’s most recent essays has caused me to pause and reconsider this point.
In his piece from New York, Lessig argues that we should be suspicious of the recent trend of voter suppression measures passed by state legislatures around the country. While Lessig does not use the term, I believe that he is in the middle of a trend of “disenfranchisement” which would be better described under the heading of “book bans.” In this piece, Lessig calls for, but does not require, voter ID legislation, requiring photo IDs at the polls, and other measures that restrict the right to vote.
The problem is that this sort of disenfranchisement is the exact type of disenfranchisement at which the First Amendment is designed to guard. By disenfranchising certain voters, the state is taking sides in what Lessig suggests is America’s racial divide. The idea is that the state’s interest, or ours, is served by taking action to improve or protect the vote, and not by disenfranchising certain members of society, especially if they happen to be members of a minority group.
By allowing the state to disenfranchise certain voters, the state is taking sides in this nation’s racial divide.
And that is, in fact, exactly what the state is trying to do.
To name a few measures of state voter suppression laws:
In Ohio, a law that would have blocked certain students from voting in the presidential election is now being challenged to the Supreme Court. According to the Dispatch:“The ACLU of Ohio says the law