Court to tackle key voting rights provision
November 9th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Court to tackle key voting rights provision

The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be scrapped, amid arguments it is a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era.

Known as Section 5, the provision gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be "pre-cleared" by federal authorities in Washington.

The provision was reauthorized by Congress in 2006 for 25 more years. This move prompted a lawsuit by officials in Shelby County, Alabama, who argued that the monitoring was overly burdensome and unwarranted.

The case could be one of the biggest the justices tackle this term, potentially offering a social, political and legal barometer on the progress of civil rights in the United States - and the justices take on the level of national vigilance still needed to ensure that minorities have equal access in the election process.

While the high court announced this week its intention to take up the issue, oral arguments - and, after that, a decision - won't come until next year.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Supreme Court
soundoff (287 Responses)
  1. Sam

    OMG, the conservatives are again slapping the people in the face. They know what the states are doing to suppress voting and now they are going to make it easier. We need to IMPEACH our Supreme Court.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lokari

      Why would we need to impeach the SCOTUS? At this point, all they've done is agree to hear the case. And that, after all, is their job.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • hurricane

      Obama is actually the only person who can fire and appoint supreme court members, a duty of the President that should have never happened years ago.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      well, we don't know their decision yet. but how can anyone look at this past election and say we don't need to protect voting rights as much anymore? the GOP was pulling out all the stops to try and keep the poor, young, and minorities from voting. especially rick scott in florida.

      the whole system needs reform, the voting process itself should be taken out of the hands of party members entirely and maintained by a bipartisan group.

      and also redistricting has to stop. if not for it, the GOP would've lost the house this election too. their gerrymandering rigged the vote.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      the president can't fire supreme court members lol.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Why are libs so against laws that insure everyone only votes once and only legal citizens can vote? Oh that's right. They want to pad the votes with Illegals just like they did this year down in Miami.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'Joe

      Why are libs so against laws that insure everyone only votes once and only legal citizens can vote? Oh that's right. They want to pad the votes with Illegals just like they did this year down in Miami.'

      why are repubs so brain dead that they actually believe the nonsense they post?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bojack

      hurricane, hate to tell ya this but not even Obama can fire a Suprime Court Judge. They are appointed for life.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Kieser

      Um... you DO realize that they haven't made a decision yet, and are just agreeing to hear the case *in the future*, right? If you seriously think that's an impeachable offense, you have larger problems than the makeup and behavior of the Supreme Court...

      November 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Switters

    Everyone needs to send Clareance Thomas 5 lbs of chicken wings.......

    November 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      racist!

      November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Darth Cheney

    If they can't stop the court, they could charge people who try to suppress or intimidate voters with treason. An execution or two might put these fascists in their place.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DC

    Wow...Florida will really be a joke then!

    November 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chunk a chunk

    We all know Scalia hates protecting the rights of minorities, so he will vote to strike it down for sure.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. billgeorge

    no

    November 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JohnRJohnson

    This is very scary. Removing the ability of the government to enforce such an important law is one step short of permitting rampant voter suppression in this country. Who are these people?

    November 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolatyouall

      Voter suppression ..like the black panthers, right ?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dom

      lolatyouall: Yes JUST like the Black Panthers and how they've suppressed soooo many voters. lol

      November 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tommie

    It'll be interesting to see if we get "Activist Judges who legislate from the bench". Conservative hate those types now they want the judges to over turn the clear intention of Congress. s

    November 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GvilleT

    The folks in Shelby County, Alabama feel burdened only because witht he federal oversite they can't suppress the vote like they want to.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      Do you know this for a fact? Cite your sources so we can all see them. Or are you just talking out of your a$$ since that is where your brains obviously are?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    So the Black Panthers were NOT supressing voters rights in Philly?

    November 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Marshall

      ummm...didn't look like it. Of course fox wants you to think that a scary black man at one polling place in Philly is somehow the same as state governments and elected officials using the power of the state to suppress the votes of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people. Most estimates of the vote suppression in republicon states using the power of state laws put the figure of potentially disenfrachised voters at 4.5 million. In PA alone the potential number of registered voters who did not have the specific kind of ID that the suppression law required was 750,000. If you think one scary black guy at one local precint acting on his own is tha same as a state trying to prevent 750,000 citizens you are the kind of mouth breeder fox and the republicon party loves.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolatyouall

      wow the Obama supporters see nothing wrong with the black panthers suppressing votes ... and they were at more than 1 polling place and no it wasn't fox news making the "scary" black men up there were SEVERAL videos taking and pics taken of them at several polling places...yet where were the police ? had it been the skinheads or KKK watch how fast riot control woudl have been on scene ... oh and what about the illegal votes the Dems support ? ah John sheeple like you are what have failed this country... but do continue to drink the coolaid and when you are licking the boots of your masters you will have noone to thank but yourself

      November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Marshall

      You seriously do not understand that private citizens violating the law is not the same as the state using the power of the state to violate the rights of the people? It is not to excuse the behavior of those individual, but it is a false equivelence.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jo

      To Dave:

      You racists are obssessed and scared s-tless of the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers do not have a significant following in the black community. Most African Americans are trying to work within the system to deal with racists like you.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'wow the Obama supporters see nothing wrong with the black panthers suppressing votes ... and they were at more than 1 polling place and no it wasn't fox news making the "scary" black men up there were SEVERAL videos taking and pics taken of them at several polling places'

      of course there were, scary black panthers growling at the white folks right?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    I am thinking we need feds to step in to conduct elections in light of recent events like voter suppression by GOP and the SCOTUS is doing what? Take away one provision that might protect voting rights? This is nuts.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. government cheese

    Good call SC

    November 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bibleverse1

    With the tactics this election season no. The people in those states cannot be trusted. The actions of people in those states prove they cannot be trusted. The demographics are changing and they will do all they can to retain power.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cinchy

    The fire of racism wants to go out, but the media and academics do their best to stoke it. Clearly this provision is outdated. How insulting to these states. If anything, voter fraud is the more germane issue.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Marshall

      So those racists down in Mississippi having a mini-riot because President Obama got elected were the result of the media?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert

    Conservatives believe in the right to bear arms, but not so much when it comes to people's right to vote.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dom

      Wow you're an idiot, do you believe everything Rupert Murdoch tells you? Kind of like his own little female Australian Shepherd I see. After all the KKK and a "balck" panther have SO MUCH in common.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Marshall

      The Democratic party did not tell those people to do anything. And yes, it is typical for white supremecists to do the same thing. It is why there are vote monitors at the polling places. SHeeple. Wow. YOu really are stuck in the 70s.

      And the actions of private citizens is not the issue. The Voting Rights Act stops the STATE from violating the voting rights of the citizens of the state. If people are breaking the law, they are breaking the law.

      But if you buy that fox noise red herring baloney and are unaware of the very simple logical fallacy of the false equivelence then there is no talking sense to you anyway

      November 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
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