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. Ernie Valdez

    Like the prophet of our time has said (Jimmy B) "there's a woman to blame!"

    November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hillcrester

    The five conservative justices are pizzed they didn't get a chance to appoint RomneyBain President.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ccb

    Well, here we go again.This election cycle demonstrated more than ever why we need this provision. In fact mre states should be covered like PA, Ohio, etc. The GOP andvvvvv iconfederates like True the Vote, the Koch brothers, etc., will continue t. "'dπ-

    November 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laurta

    It is so damn stupid everyone who is legal citiiizen of this country can get a state Id by showing a birth certificate
    Id be willing to bet those that dont want to show Id dont have drivers license and are driving anyway,
    becaiuse they are illegal and cant vote legally. Obama seemed to not care if illegals voted. They broke our laws
    when they cross our borders so its no big deal for them to vote and be a crimiinal again.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      So how do you explain people born in this country who don't have a birth certificate? Or do you just wanna get mad at them there foreigners who took our jobs! THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!

      November 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • nilla

      Voter ID got delayed in PA specifically because the state couldn't issue the IDs in time. No less than two Republican judges were involved in the decision to delay it until after the election.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      People who are in this country illegally are not voting. Everyone who goes to the polls is eligible to vote. There's no need for an ID... more government is not the answer.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeanne Salmon

      My son was born in Korea and deserted on the street. He does not have a birth certificate. He is a legitimate citizen. Are you going to refuse him the vote because he was born in the "wrong" country and can't provide a US birth certificate?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bojack

      Jeanne Salmon
      How did your son get a Socil Security card without a birth certificate?

      November 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grannie Jannie

      My mother-in-law is still alive, she had 16 children and Never drove a car, never left the country. She never needed a stupid picture ID to vote. It's a fact that when fewer people vote the GOP usually gains the advantage, so by making it more difficult to vote, who stands to benefit.........The dying, loosing GOP. If the Supreme Court 5 use the power of the Bench again (as in Citizens United) to benefit ANY political party they should be Impeached and Removed from the bench! I bet the next move will be to take cigarettes away from 18 year olds and change the smoking age to 21 like the coupons, within the next four years the GOP will try to take away the rights of 18 year olds to vote. The majority of our youth vote Democratic. More suppression just what this country needs. The GOP is sliding down a steep slippery hill.....Bye, bye and good riddance.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • tonys

      There is no requirement to show a birth certificate. In this country you need an ID to buy cigarettes, booze, drive a car, get on an airplane, to cash a check...... am you and your progressive friends feel one does not need an ID to vote to prohibit non-citizens and frauds to vote.....Why don't we just let everyone vote as many times under as many names as they can....

      November 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Morons Must Die

    This is needed law. That is proven. But let them look at it. They move so slow it won't make a difference.

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

      its a needed law. can you prove that with court case or just your mouth....can you prove by showing many court cases where it shows voter not talking about 1-30 or that show it 1 percent I mean wide spread fraud that is 5-30 percent nationwide...can you PROVE this. IN COURT YOU HAVE TO PROVE your point....why not go after vote mailing where fraud can really occur.....

      you know why because the gop knows that gop voters use that alot and dems use early voting alot...and look what happened in FL. You had a gov trying to suppress the vote and make it difficult for people to vote instead of saying we have early voting dems and repubs come all...........but no the gop does would rather suppress the vote instead of trying to win or do better with the vote.......bush got 40% of Hispanics twice....huckabee got 50% of the black vote twice when he ran as this can be done....but that's to hard lets just suppress the vote since the white electorate is shrinking...they knew what they were doing with this

      November 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Evolve

    This gets reviewed every few years. And every time they find reason to keep it in, just like they will this time.

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

      I hope you're right, after Citizens United I'm not so confident...

      November 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    I hope the high court will look into the practice of having polling places in churches. As an atheist I was DISGUSTED to have to enter a church and cast my vote for Obama, even if he is a xstian. Another violation of separation of church and state. Many feel this way, as the article on CNN today proves.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Nobody ever said you had to like where you vote. Separation of church and state has nothing to do with voting. The fact that you had the right to walk into a building and vote is what it was about. You have the right not to be practicing Christian. There is your separation of Church and State you whiner.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lagos

      Interesting, where was this church you claim to have voted in?

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

      Um, Mark, it's a building. Nobody made you pray there... and I doubt that you were disgusted. Settle down.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevedaytona

      Totally agree Mark. As a first time voter (from UK, naturalized last year), I found it decidedly strange to vote in a church.

      As I was waiting in line and saw all the exhortations to come to church I remarked to my wife that they forgot to add 'as long as you're white' to their come join us invitations. This particular church had pictures of all their leading people – around 25 people – and every single one was whilte.

      Racism is alive and well in churches it would seem.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MBM

      a a church is a building....people make a church not a can be atheist if you want its your right to be...but if your disgusted about going into a church building to vote then im sure others who had in places they did not want too either...

      November 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jake

    Do black people get to vote in this great country of ours? Shameful

    November 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolatyouall

      sure they do they even get to join a terrorist Organization called the black panthers and fore people to vote how they want them to unchecked ... Heres your free Obama phone ....

      November 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • tonys

      U R being silly....we put a black man in the WH and then re-elected him. Stop the racist crap.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Charlotte

    No accident where the challenge comes from.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. May

    Judging by the continuing efforts of some states to keep African-Americans and Latinos from voting, this law is still needed.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolatyouall

      ROFLMAO ...the blacks and Illegals are allowed to easily vote ...notice how obama is still pres ? he wouldn't be otherwise ...however I guess you have no issue with the black panthers forcing voters to Vote for Ofailure

      November 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      @lolatyouall.... people who are in this country illegally aren't voting. They are buying groceries and paying rent, but they aren't voting. Also please learn proper grammar. Punctuation is your friend.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Instead of scrapping Section 5, it should be extended to cover the whole country. Voter suppression and disenfranchisement isn't just for Southerners any more.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jesus Christ Superstar

    If they law isn't needed, then certainly they don't need to waste their time discussing it. Might as well just leave it alone.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lolatyouall

    RING RING RING ....oh hey your Obama Phone is ringing .... black panthers calling to thank you for supporting them enforcing the Obama vote

    November 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • nilla

      That's a Reaganphone, and those were the New Black Panthers. -2.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret

      In AZ it was the Republicans calling Democrats giving them the wrong polling places.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jo

    Oh give me a break. You racists are obssessed and scared s-tless of the Black Panthers. Breathe...and listen.....the Black Panthers do not have any siginificant followers in the black community. Most African Americans are trying to work within the system to deal with racists like you.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard

    There needs to be a national standard for the voting rules that applies to all states. In several states (Oklahoma for one), a voter is required to show a picture id along with the voter registration card. In Texas, the same law was struck down by the federal court based on this law (both states will supply a picture id card for the asking). The difference is Texas is listed under this law and Oklahoma is not. I have to supply a picture id when I use a credit card or write a check, so I don't see the big issue with this requirement to vote.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wrong

      Richard, stop passing false information. I have lived in Oklahoma for most of my life and never had to show both an ID and a voter card. I have only ever shown my driver's license, that is all.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevedaytona

      Florida too. In fact, no interest was shown in my voter registration card. Just swiped my DL alone.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
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