Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act states that no person who has completed up through the 6th grade in any accredited school in PR where the primary language was other than English shall be denied the right to vote because of his inability to read or write English.
State of NY brought suit since this law conflicts with the NY law that puts the condition of being able to read and write English on voting rights.
Lower court held for NY, 4(e) unconstitutional.
SCOTUS reversed, 4(e) constitutional.
What is the appropriate scope of Congressional power under the 14th amendment?
Congress may enact laws stemming from its 14th Amendment enforcement power that increase the rights of citizens beyond what the judiciary has recognized.
Section 5 of the 14th amendment confers the same power on Congress as the Necessary and Proper Clause since they use the same language.
Section 4(e) may be readily seen as plainly adapted to further the aims of the Equal Protection Clause.
It enables the PR minority to better obtain equality.
It was for Congress, as the branch that made the judgment, to assess and weigh the various conflicting considerations.
It is not for the court to review the congressional consideration of factors.
It is enough that the Court can perceive a basis upon which Congress might resolve the conflict as it did. (problem - disenfranchised Spanish speakers, solution - preempting state law through VRA)
Voting rights are essentially a matter of state concern, subject only to federal constitutional provisions.
The Court has confused the issue of how much enforcement power Congress possesses under Section 5 of the 14th amendment with the distinct issue of what questions are appropriate for congressional determination and what questions are essentially judicial in nature.
It is a judicial question whether the condition that Congress chooses to deal with is in truth an infringement of the Constitution.
The Court's held in Lassiter that an English literacy test is a permissible exercise of state supervision over its franchise; Congress should not be able to modify this decision through Section 5 legislation.
The Court reads Section 5 as giving Congress the power to define the substantive scope of the 14th amendment.