- The Supreme Court recently said that judges should consider voting rules in place in 1982 in certain cases.
- The Court applied that new “guidepost” to cases under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
- Here are 11 things that date back to 1982 to show how much time has passed.
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Classic movies “ET” and “Tootsie.” Staple 80s hit songs “Come On, Eileen,” “Eye of the Tiger,” and “I Love Rock and Roll.” These are all things from 1982, the year that the Supreme Court majority said that courts should take into account when weighing whether voting restrictions violate the Voting Rights Act.
In the case Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the court ruled 6-3 to uphold two Arizona voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act – and set five new “guideposts” for how courts should approach Section 2 vote-denial cases that make it harder for litigants to prove voting discrimination in court.
One of the new guideposts for courts to consider is how much a given election law “departs from what was standard practice” when Congress last amended Section 2 in 1982.
Because every voting law imposes some burden, the Court reasoned, “the burdens associated with the rules in widespread use when [Section 2] was adopted are therefore useful in gauging whether the burdens imposed by a challenged rule are sufficient to prevent voting from being equally ‘open’ or furnishing an equal ‘opportunity’ to vote in the sense meant by [Section 2].”
This new condition came somewhat out of left-field, and puzzled legal experts. In 1982, very few states offered voting options commonplace today, including no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, or automatic and same-day registration.
In her scathing dissent, Justice Elena Kagan called the new 1982 standard “the oddest part” of the majority opinion, writing, “Section 2 was meant to disrupt the status quo, not to preserve it-to eradicate then-current discriminatory practices, not to set them in amber.”
Harvard Law professor Nick Stephanopoulos, writing in the Washington Post, called it the “most astonishing extra-textual move” in the entire decision, wondering, “Why on earth would that be?”
Here are 11 things from 1982 to put the amount of time that’s passed since then – and how different the world is – in perspective:
The Survivor hit “Eye of the Tiger.”
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge
The sitcom “Cheers.”
The first episode of “Late Night” with David Letterman.
“ET: The Extraterrestrial.”
“The Princess Diaries” and “The Devil Wears Prada” actress Anne Hathaway.
Singers Kelly Clarkson and LeAnn Rimes, actresses Jessica Biel and Kirsten Dunst, and Olympic athletes Tara Lipinski and Apolo Anthon Ono were also born in 1982.
The Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The teen comedy film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Science fiction classic “Blade Runner.”
Police drama “Cagney and Lacey.”