SCOTUS to Hear Voting Rights Act Challenge

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.

23 comments on this post.
  1. DaveL:

    The America that elected and reelected Barack Obama as its first African-American president…

    … with the Deep South kicking and screaming every step of the way…

  2. Brett McCoy:

    Project on Fair Representation: “we are a not-for-profit legal defense fund designed to support litigation that challenges racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts.”

  3. Didaktylos:

    But wasn’t Romney overwhelmingly elected President of the CSA?

  4. robertbaden:

    It does seem discriminatory that Alabama is on the list and not Ohio these days.
    They should add Ohio to the list.

  5. baal:

    Yeah, I wasn’t happy when I saw this news. The two choices are that the SCOTUS does nothing (then why take it) or to modify (i.e. roll back) provisions. This court will not be using this opportunity to strengthen its provisions (despite all the BS voter suppression from the (R)).

  6. raven:

    Voter suppression aimed at nonwhite minorities is a serious problem today.

    We’ve all seen it with the restrictive voter ID laws and anything else the GOP can think of to prevent poor and nonwhite citizens from voting.

    This is just another attempt by the fading old, rich white males to hang onto power.

  7. Raging Bee:

    The Supreme Court signaled in 2009 that it might be willing to invalidate the pre-clearing requirement…

    Invalidate it?! Why not apply it to all 50 states instead? That would be just as fair and consistent as invalidating it altogether; and, given the voter-suppression campaigns we’ve seen from nearly all regions this year, not just the South, it would be more effective as well.

  8. Gregory in Seattle:

    @baal #5 – Optimistically, there is a third option: the Court decides that existing law is insufficient and uses the case to expand voter protections.

    Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either, but hope lets me sleep at night.

  9. Chiroptera:

    “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.”

    And I’m guessing that the specific parts of America that voted against Obama aren’t all that different from what they were in 1965.

    I’m just sayin’, is all.

  10. loren:

    Raging Bee: Invalidate it?! Why not apply it to all 50 states instead? That would be just as fair and consistent as invalidating it altogether; and, given the voter-suppression campaigns we’ve seen from nearly all regions this year, not just the South, it would be more effective as well.

    Are you suggesting that the best way to fight voter suppression in 2012 might *not* be to design the rules around which locations were discriminating in 1972? Blasphemy!

  11. Arion:

    Anybody that says folks here in the South have advanced socially, is either ignorant, or lying. I’ve witnessed racism and bigotry myself, and I’m not even 30. I’ve watched good people quit their jobs and move away because of ignorant, racist fools throwing rocks through their windows and burning crosses in their yard.

  12. D. C. Sessions:

    In case y’all aren’t feeling stressed out enough by this, here’s something to consider:

    This is the same Court that contorted itself into giving us Citizens United when the issue of unlimited campaign contributions was not remotely before the Court. There is absolutely nothing to stop the Roberts Court from using this to toss out the entire Voting Rights Act.

  13. raven:

    and burning crosses in their yard.

    That happened recently in a rural area near where I used to live, settled by Okies.

    The family was white but they had adopted a little kid who was…gasp, horrors, black.

    “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.”

    What nonsense. It’s no different, just thinly disguised.

    Half of the Tea Party/GOP doesn’t use crude racial slurs outside their little groups. They just insist, against a huge amount of data, that the President is a Kenyan born, Moslem, terrorist commie.

  14. raven:

    Voter suppression = let’s keep nonwhites and poor people from voting.

    It is absolutely no different from poll taxes, literacy tests, or cross burnings.

    No we haven’t moved much since the 1960′s. And the Tea Party would like to move backwards as far as they can towards the Dark Age.

  15. d.c.wilson:

    Raging Bee: Invalidate it?! Why not apply it to all 50 states instead? That would be just as fair and consistent as invalidating it altogether;

    Better yet, adopt national standards for registration, early voting, absentee ballots, provisional ballots, and the counting of ballots with respect to elections for any federal office.

  16. Nibi:

    “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.

    Also, the Cuyahoga River no longer catches fire so let’s eliminate the EPA. Surely we have a more enlightened corporate culture where no one would dream of dumping toxic waste into a waterway to save a buck.

  17. raven:

    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,”..

    Oh for Cthulhu’s sake!!!

    1. If the Voting Rights Act is moot because we have become an aracial or postracial society, than it isn’t doing any good, harm, or much of anything.

    2. The fact that they care tells you volumes about why it is needed. It’s simply in the way of their (Tea Party/GOP white racists) goal of preventing as many of Them not really real humans from voting.

    3. We aren’t in a Jim Crow era time warp. We really haven’t moved much beyond that. Without the existing laws, it would be back in a heartbeat. It’s all about tribalism, power, and money and that never, ever changes.

    4. The constitutionality must have been tested before now. The Tea Party/GOP/racist hated the Voting Rights act when it was passed in 1965 and every minute since then.

  18. F:

    They should add Ohio to the list.

    Fuck yeah they should. But there really shouldn’t be a list at all. This should apply everywhere.

  19. democommie:

    “And I’m guessing that the mindset of the specific parts of America that voted against Obama aren’t all that different from what they were in 1865.”

    Sorry, that needed to have a slight edit.

    Not that it would make any difference to them but, Robert Mugabe.

  20. tajparis:

    @Nibi (#16)

    Funny you should make that argument. Here in Cuyahoga County the EPA in cooperation with local and state agencies just busted a small business owner for dumping a drum of cyanide into a storm drain that feeds into a major local waterway. All in an effort to save some money on disposal fees. :-/

  21. Childermass:

    The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says:

    Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    The other two Civil War amendments also have similar statements.

    States rights would come from the Tenth Amendment. As 13, 14, and 14 all come after 10, they take priority — they amend the Constitution that existed prior to their adaption.

    Congress has the right to enact laws to enforce voting rights for minorities — period. Any invalidation of the Voting Rights Act means that the conservatives on the high court have given up what little pretense they previously had for respecting the plain language of the Constitution.

  22. Childermass:

    s/As 13, 14, and 14/As 13, 14, and 15/;

  23. eric:

    @5 and @8 – there’s a fourth option. Given the rightward bend of the court, this may be (depressingly) the best we can hope for: they rule very narrowly that Shelby, Alabama does not need it any more, and lay out criteria for other areas to have it removed.

    I say ‘depressingly’ because even though a set of good, strong criteria would actually probably help, I’d expect this SCOTUS to come up with easy and meaningless criteria that will have the practical effect of letting lots of districts off over the next several years.

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