David Epstein

David Epstein is a professor of political science at Columbia University.

Recent Articles

Democratic Dilemmas

I grew up in an ACLU household; the heroes of the civil rights revolution were our heroes, and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) was the watershed event that enfranchised minority voters in the South for the first time since Reconstruction. The key provision in the VRA effecting this change was Section 5, which transferred the burden of proof from minority voters to southern states, requiring them to prove that proposed changes to their voting laws would not harm minorities. Earlier this year the civil rights community worked with congressional leaders to fashion legislation extending Section 5 and other expiring provisions of the VRA for another 25 years; Congress passed this legislation unamended, and the president signed it into law late last month. So why am I uneasy? As an answer, it is worth pondering why this bill would pass with the strong support of Republicans in Congress and the White House. It might be, of course, that Republicans have seen the light and, in...