As predicted, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted cert in a case challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That provision is the one that requires some or all of 16 states to get prior approval from the DOJ before making any rule that could have a negative effect on the voting rights if minorities.
The new appeal from Shelby County, Ala., near Birmingham, says state and local governments covered by the law have made significant progress and no longer should be forced to live under oversight from Washington.
“The America that elected and reelected Barack Obama as its first African-American president is far different than when the Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965. Congress unwisely reauthorized a bill that is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp. It is unconstitutional,” said Edward Blum, director of the not-for-profit Project on Fair Representation, which is funding the challenges to the voting rights law and affirmative action.
But defenders of the law said there is a continuing need for it and pointed to the Justice Department’s efforts to block voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, as well as a redistricting plan in Texas that a federal court found discriminated against the state’s large and growing Hispanic population. “What we know even more clearly now than we did when the court last considered this question is that a troubling strain of obstructing the path to the ballot box remains a part of our society,” Adegbile said.
The Supreme Court signaled in 2009 that it might be willing to invalidate the pre-clearing requirement, but they have not done so directly. This could be a very dangerous case.