The Congressional Black Caucus, Minority Voting Rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court

Christina R. Rivers
The U.S. Supreme Court and the Congressional Black Caucus disagree over how best to protect minority voting rights


Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) claim to advocate minority political interests, yet they disagree over the intent and scope of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as well as the interpretation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Whereas the Court promotes color-blind policies, the CBC advocates race-based remedies. Setting this debate in the context of the history of black political thought, Rivers examines a series of high-profile districting cases, from Rodgers v. Lodge (1982) through NAMUDNO v. Holder (2009). She evaluates the competing approaches to racial equality and concludes, surprisingly, that an originalist, race-conscious interpretation of the 14th Amendment, along with a revised states' rights position regarding electoral districting, may better serve minority political interests.

"It genuinely breaks new ground and should attract interest from voting rights scholars, scholars of race and politics, and public law scholars."
—Julie Novkov, University at Albany, SUNY

"The book's study of the CBC in light of the history of Black political thought makes an important contribution to the history of ideas, while providing a fresh perspective from which to assess contemporary voting rights jurisprudence."
—Nancy Maveety, Tulane University

"Christina Rivers provides a broad overview of American racial politics. Specifically, she demonstrates how the Congressional Black Caucus and the Supreme Court have differing points of view about how to interpret the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. This book provides the reader a historical understanding of racial politics in America as well as the current lay of the land in terms of the Court's modern interpretation of the Voting Rights Act and relevant sections of the Constitution."
—Tom Brunell, University of Texas at Dallas

Jacket image: © tuja66/Veer

Christina R. Rivers is Associate Professor of Political Science at DePaul University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Christina R. Rivers’ timely account of the influence of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on minority voting rights in the U.S. contains valuable insight into the historical and political role of race in the Supreme Court’s voting rights decisions."
    —APSA Legislative Studies Section
  • "Rivers explores the clash between the Congressional Black Caucus's race-conscious approach and the Supreme Court's color blind perspective on the role of race in redistricting, representation, and the law. ... Graduate seminars on racial politics, election law, or African American political thought would benefit from this book. Scholars who study these topics, in addition to voting rights, redistricting, and the Congressional Black Caucus, should also read this compelling and well-written book."
    American Review of Politics

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 228pp.
  • 2 maps, 3 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11810-6

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  • $78.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2014
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03582-3

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  • $31.95 U.S.

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  • United States Supreme Court, Minority Voting Rights, Voting Rights Colorblind principle, Race-based remedies, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Rogers v. Lodge (1982), NAMUDNO v. Holder (2009), Voting Rights Act (VRA), 14th Amendment, Originalism, Race-consciousness, Black political thought, Civil Rights Movement, states’ rights, Electoral districting, Redistricting, Representation