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. Jeff Cox

    They'll probably scrap this ... after all, corporations finally achieved equal rights with other "persons". That's what is most important.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      Corporations have had the same protections under the Bill of Rights since the 19th Century, what are you talking about?

      November 10, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Auntie Meme

      Corporations have more rights than people. Thanks to the VERY recent supreme court decision, they can spen unlimited amount of money convincing gullible uneducated people whom to vote for.

      November 10, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Susie

      Corporations are groups of people so why wouldnt they have the same rights as anyone else.

      November 10, 2012 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Master Blaster

      If corporations were really people, most of them would be in jail! Since corporations represent a large gripping of people, should they be allowed to vote like a flesh & blood human? What if CEO's bankrupt (murder) a corporation, should they face criminal homicide charges with prison time?

      November 10, 2012 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      @Auntie Wrong, they have the same rights for how much they can spend. A Private Citizen, or group of Private Citizens can spend as much as they like in support of a cause, Political Agenda or candidate. That isn't new.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Hobart

    Congress felt that the threat of continued discrimination was still significant in 2006 when the Voting Rights Act was renewed.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      Clearly a bad move as they then promptly got voted out.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. IvyLeagueMamaLlama

    The conservative bloc of today's Supreme Court is certainly not the appropriate body to comment on whether there has been sufficient progress on civil rights!

    November 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mickey

    It seems to me that to a large degree racism and bigotry still have a large presence in the south, not that north, east or west are models of tolerance. Keeping an eye on our secessionist neighbors is not a bad idea.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. selfevolved

    We need a new law at the Federal level guaranteeing voting rights nationally, instead of continuing to let states handle everything.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tonyl

    Southern states still dominated by the GOP right wing neo cons who still hate the minorities is obvious. Talk shows hosts actually making comments about not allowing the poor minorities to vote in the elections by calling them uneducated. Neal Boortz always uses this argument of taking away the right to vote by the minorities. South is still thriving with the hate for the minorities. Feds will have to remain vigilant and keep an eye on the southern states for the civil right violations by the state officials.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • TrueReality

      Oh, don't worry, there's plenty of ignorance to be found in any part of the country. Not that voter awareness is particularly important when the only choice in the election is between the lesser of two evils...

      November 10, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • AuntySocial

      Unfortunately, that is true. The 2000 election should have highlighted that. Katharine Harris, the Republican legislature and Jeb Bush (W's brother) prevented 57,000 voters in Florida from voting telling them they were convicted felons. Approximately 10% of that number were in fact felons. The other 90% had the misfortune of sharing a name with a felon somewhere in the country. Most of the people on the list were black. Database Technologies was the company that came up with the list. Al Gore lost Florida by less than 400 votes. This year Rick Scott, governor of Florida lowered the early voting in certain counties of Florida from 14 to 8 days. Can you guess the party of the majority of people in those counties? I'll give you a hint, they aren't republican. How late on election night were there still people in line to vote in those counties in Florida. I heard 2:00 am. As long as you are in line to vote when the polls close,, they have to let you vote. But they will do anything in their power to make you leave the line. I know of more that happened in 2000, and some that happened in 2004. This year Maricopa County Arizona sent out information packs to voters. The Spanish speakers were told in it that the election was 11/8. Those are some methods used to keep people from even going to the polls. Republican groups love to go to the polls and challenge voters. Most of this happens in "red states."

      November 10, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Leif

      That is the definition of irony: the scientifically illiterate GOP base refers to another group as "uneducated".

      November 10, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      The only openly racist people I know are Blacks. Whites vote for Obama for change. Blacks vote for Obama because he is Black, even if he was like the dictator of Zimbabwe.

      November 10, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Lee

      Bryan....you know thats not true

      Allen West Lost in Florida...so us racist blacks who "Vote for Anyone black"

      didnt vote for him

      November 10, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • linsey

      true...

      November 10, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
    • linsey

      antisocial...exactly...republicans been doing all the time..giving wrong information to voters..i am from.florida and this should stop ,the bad strategies of repubs..they dont have the right to take away what the voters want to choose whom to serve the country..

      November 10, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. BigBearCarolina

    With the NAACP taking over polling places and the New Black Panther Party intimidating voters, it would seem they still have it bad in the South. We certainly do need more Federal government oversight. They handle everything else they do so well.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SOS

    That's why the GOP lost and will continue to lose. Their hatred towards minorities and women will make sure they will never win again. Unfortunately even in the GOP it is only a small group that hold these extremist views but the whole party will suffer because I this.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      They increased their majority in the House and decreased the gap in the Senate, how is that "lost?"

      November 11, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. lord_forsight

    GOP needs to be more careful about these legislative pushes they hope will give them electoral advantage. For example, saying no to abortion rights really favors the minority -minorities make more babies, which means more voters who will likely vote straight liberal tickets in future elections. So, what will determine who wins the most electoral and congressional votes in future elections is the Changing Demographic (minority increase vs majority decrease).

    November 10, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. borisjimbo

    Hurry up, while there are still five reactionaries on the court!

    November 10, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Good Ol' Days

      Ah yes, and soon we'll get back to where you have to be a white male landowner that can vote. I can't wait......

      November 10, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon Samuel

      It's not five. You got four leftist justices who are basically democrat appointed political hacks

      November 10, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. Planet Kolob

    This is why we have to hope at least 2 of the neocon justices kick the bucket while Obama holds office so he can replace them with more moderate individuals who won't play politics with, say, womens bodies, voting rights, corporate power, or gay people's relationships.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. AuntySocial

    Here is what happened in the 2000 election in Florida...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbqCk1SCRxU watch this.

    November 10, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • linsey

      yeah..and this should stop ..this is dirty..republicans dont have that right to fool voters and much more to take voters right to choose whom they want..

      November 10, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Oates

    Given the right-wing tendency of the Supreme Court, it will continue the goal of Republicans to set the social development of the US back 50 years. Anything to protect the supremacy of the "White" vote.

    November 10, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. BlackPanthersDecideWhoVotes

    Don't worry, Eric Holder will continue to decide who gets their votes counted on a State Level and Obama will remain President for life. Well, your life anyway. You'll all starve or freeze to death soon.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Petruski

    Interesting, with all the attempts by the (so called) GOP to limit people's access to voting in numerous states this year. Who can possibly think that this provision is no longer needed?

    November 10, 2012 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      How does requiring an ID, which is the same or less ID than the Federal Government requires to apply for and receive SNAP, HUD Subsidies, TANF and Medicaid, or use Medicare limit access to voting?

      November 11, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Tens Of Millions Of Illegals

      It didn't limit us, We are the New Majority!

      November 11, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
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