The Constitutional Relevance of Alleged Legislative Dysfunction


  • Nathaniel Persily
Publish Date:
January 1, 2008
Publication Title:
117 Yale Law Journal Pocket Part 256 .
  • Nathaniel Persily, The Constitutional Relevance of Alleged Legislative Dysfunction, 117 Yale Law Journal Pocket Part 256 (2008).


The role of an election law scholar these days is much like that of an anthropologist specializing in the study of human sacrifice. At a certain point, some of us in the field suppress natural human impulses of disgust and revulsion and replace them with fascination and curiosity. How else does one stomach the pervasive partisan greed, the wild conspiracy theories, the actual conspiracies, the pretextual arguments, and the often vicious attempts to use the law for partisan and personal gain? My article The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act may appear too descriptive and anodyne to some, because of its attempt to treat this important legislation as a phenomenon that needs to be explained before it can be judged. This Reply gives me the opportunity to offer some of the judgment that might have been lacking in the principal article and to reply to critics who have responded in print and those who have responded as part of litigation surrounding the constitutionality of the new Voting Rights Act (VRA).