The Supreme Court of the United States and the right to vote
This thesis considers some conceptual problems in the constitutional voting rights doctrine of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has expanded its theory of voting rights to cover matters other than the right of suitably qualified individuals to register and cast a ballot. The thesis considers the manner in which the Court has extended its theory. Chapters 2 and 3 discuss the Court's decision on votor registration and franchise laws. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with the application of voting rights doctrine to electoral districting disputes. Chapter 6 considers the problems raised by attempts to extend the reach of the doctrine to claims that certain forms of electoral structure dilute the voting power of racial (or other) minority groups. The subject of Chapter 7 is the right to be a candidate and the relationship between that right and the right to vote. Chapter 8 contains a short treatment of the Court's complex decisions on laws regulating election campaign spending, and considers the compatibility of the theory on which those decisions are based with the Court's broader constitutional voting rights doctrine. This broad survey of the Court's voting rights decisions is undertaken with the aim of highlighting inconsistencies in its characterisation of the constitutional right to vote. It is concluded (Chapter 9) that the Court has repeatedly retreated behind a limited conception of the right to vote as a right to register and cast a ballot, and to be protected against the various forms of voting-related discrimination which the Constitution explicitly prohibits. Possible explanations for the Court's preference for a narrow conception of the right to vote are considered in the text.