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Colorblind Injustice: Minority Voting Rights and the Undoing of the Second Reconstruction Paperback – January 25, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0807847381 ISBN-10: 0807847380 Edition: 1st

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Colorblind Injustice: Minority Voting Rights and the Undoing of the Second Reconstruction + The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (American Politics and Political Economy Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (January 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807847380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807847381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,138,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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Historians, lawyers, legislators, and activists will have to read his work with close and respectful attention."North Carolina Historical Review"

Book Description

"Engaging, provocative, and insightful."--Michigan Law Review

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Shaw v. Reno is at the heart of Colorblind Injustice: Minority Voting Rights and the Undoing of the Second Reconstruction, historian J. Morgan Kousser's closely reasoned critique of the Court's recent rulings on the constitutionality of "majority-minority" congressional districts-districts created for the purpose of ensuring adequate minority representation in the House of Representatives...
Colorblind Injustice is an angry book. Kousser is convinced that in a series of recent decisions, beginning with Shaw v. Reno, the Rehnquist Court has destroyed the hard-won gains that African Americans have made in political representation. Kousser considers those decisions to be bad law, bad history, and bad public policy, and he hopes "to set voting rights policy straight by getting its history right" (p. 2). In the pursuit of that ambition, he has written an exhaustive study of the recent history of voting rights, a study so carefully researched and intelligently reasoned that it will probably become the definitive work on this subject...
Kousser begins his analysis with a celebration of the achievements of the Second Reconstruction, a period when "the Court's willingness to protect the rights of minority citizens or let Congress do so, along with the stable majority of experienced and sympathetic members of Congress from 1954 to 1994, allowed judges, Congress, bureaucrats, and interest groups to improve federal protections [for minority rights] gradually and pragmatically" (p. 53). In Kousser's eyes, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been central to this process of minority protection, especially Section 5 of that act, which requires states that had prohibited black voting in the past to submit changes in electoral laws to the Justice Department for approval...
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Carl V. Harris harris@humanitas.ucsb.edu on August 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
COLORBLIND INJUSTICE is a magnificent book with mighty themes. Built upon historian J. Morgan Kousser's two decades of work as an expert witness in voting rights cases, enriched by his rigorous state-of-the-art political analysis, and supported by massive and precise documentation, this powerful work will fundamentally alter discussion of race and politics in modern America. Most significantly, it convincingly refutes currently-fashionable talk about the benefits of eliminating government protection of the political rights of minorities. Kousser demonstrates, for example, that several supposedly "colorblind" 1990s voting rights decisions by the United States Supreme Court have been unfairly partial to the Republican Party, unjustly biased against the interests of African-American voters, contrary to the original intention of the relevant laws and constitutional amendments, and revolutionary in overturning well-established precedent. He also demolishes the underpinnings of the advocacy of supposedly "colorblind" racial policies by Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom in AMERICA IN BLACK AND WHITE, a "benchmark" conservative study of 20th century race relations. One central subject of COLORBLIND INJUSTICE is the relentlessly-political process by which state legislatures decennially draw congressional district boundaries. In 1991 the federal Justice Department, implementing the 1982 amendments to the federal Voting Rights Act, pressed states to create districts according to criteria that allowed minority politicians and voters to play a fairer role in the process than ever before and to increase the number of black-majority districts. Minority representation in Congress grew, but in no state did white representation fall below the white portion of the population.Read more ›
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is much to appreciate here, such as the detail of the case studies -- the Memphis case in particular, brings us back to an earlier era in our nation's history.
But the broad themes of the book strike me as its greatest weakness. The analogy between Reconstruction in the period just after the Civil War on the one hand, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that Kousser calls the "second" Reconstruction, is lame.
The very first sentence shows some of the problems with this book. "Institutions and institutional rules -- not customs, ideas, attitudes, culture, or private behavior -- have primarily shaped race relations in America." If he took that sentence seriously, it would lead him into a definitional swamp, analyzing the different but overlapping meaanings of all the words used there, discussing which one is "primary" and for what reason. He does not take it seriously enough to get us mired in that swamp, but it remains a weak opening.
The best book in this field is David T. Canon's, RACE, REDISTRICTING, AND REPRESENTATION.
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