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. Chris

    If the way voter ID was rolled out ahead of the 2012 election, it is clear we need as many protections on voting rights as we can get.

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

      Voter IDs and a half dozen other measures designed to prevent certain segments of the population from voting.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KC Yankee

    Who are balck panthers?

    November 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sassysticks53

      Yahoo! Go Panthers!

      November 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      @KC Yankee.................... Learn how to spell BLACK. To the other bigot lolatyouall, There are tons of WHITE people that get public assistance and some of them are republicans. Get over it, you lost. The BETTER MAN won.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • kacz

      Actually, the Black Panthers were a somewhat militant group of Americans focused on "protecting black neighborhoods from police brutality" in the 60s and 70s.

      lolita here also has her figures wrong. Here are the actual facts regarding welfare recipients:

      White 38.8%
      Black 39.8
      Hispanic 15.7
      Asian 2.4
      other 3.3

      Furthermore, there are approx. 4.1M Americans on welfare with over 60% leaving the roles within 2 years. The total amount spent per year on welfare recipients across the US is under $132B. The most comprehensive analysis in the US identifies over $170B a year in corporate welfare. The US spends over $900B a year to blow stuff up.

      You want to ween the US off the public dole? Start with a defense industry run amok and corporations.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      Yay! I love your post, kacz! Will you run for president please?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    Actually John Marshall,I am not a Republican and I do not watch Fox,In fact I watch NO Fox channels,not even the sports channels. The fact that anybody would object to show ID or say its racist..or to keep voting down..etc...Is a Liberal Myth. Fcat is it does not seem to stop people from getting federal aid when they want open a bank cash a buy buy get a job...all require ID and they will bend over bacvkwards to show it for that..especially the FREE STUFF! So their claim it is racist or unfair is a JOKE just like the Black Panthers!

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

      Ah, Dave, you give yourself away by the FREE STUFF comment, this weeks conservative rant that all democrats want is free stuff. It is hard to deny that so many efforts were made very close to the election, to make it more difficult for people to vote. Those efforts all seemed to come from Republicans, came so close to the election as to make it difficult for people to comply, and were all made in the name of avoiding a voter fraud that is non-existent. Do they think we can't see them, when they try to suppress the vote? It was so transparent that it just made the GOP look small, petty, and desperate. Voter suppression – from the party that loves to call themselves "patriots".

      November 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      What is Berr?

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

      Dave, fact is some states don't require an ID to open a bank account. Additionally, doesn't the FACT that many urban voters, who tend to be poorer, more minority, or older, and have less of a need for a license because they don't drive have some significance?

      November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jo

    This Court is going to do everything in their power to make sure there will never be another Obama. When will you right wing extremist learn....this country has changed for the better. You cannot and will not stop this progress because you will go before it does.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Not So Fast.

    Each time the Republicans lose at something, the High Court wants to step in. We should kick the 5 Republicans in the High Court to the curb.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Stan The Man

    Show Id to vote is reasonable, but trying to implement it three months before a major election is just stupid! If a state wants to do it for the 2016 election then they need to start today!

    November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. patsj

    You register your car, you get a driver's license... OK, but that's not similar because you don't have a right to drive but you do have a right to vote. Also, you don't have to show your driver's license every time you drive that car. If you're registered to vote, you've already proven you have a right to vote. And if some poll worker thinks you aren't who you say you are, then they can have you fill out a provisional ballot and then you have to prove who you are. But each time you vote???

    November 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      You're crying because you have to show your ID every couple of years? How big of baby are you?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hide Behind

      The largest numbers of recipients to welfare monies and programs are white women with or without children.
      T largest economic returns from all government assistance go not to the lower wage earners but to white middle class incomes.
      Corporate income from direct government assistance outside the defense and scientific industries is far far smaller than what is given that primarily white middle class.
      The racial equality for the 90% blacks who voted for Obama has fallen ever more behind under his presidency than even under the so called racist rwpublicans that preceded him.
      Then throw in figures for their chosen black white Clinton and they are realt falling behind.
      If voting has done them any good it sure has not been in the economic sphere.
      Being without color or political orthodoxy IMHO the only group of progressives out there are the Black Panthers.
      Their greatest power is thatthey speak truth to and of the powers that be.
      And that means they do not fit the mouldy ideas of republican and demo rrecessives.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Old_Hippie

    Congress, controlled by Republicans, has renewed the rule for the next 25 years. Doesn't that mean that both sides agreed on at least this one issue? Just look at all of the hateful comments posted here and know that this law is still needed and will be until hatred passes from this earth.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hillan

    The republicans don't want to see those long lines at the next election. They know they will lose every time. But I still have faith in the system. We shall see....

    November 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Nothing wrong with ID. But, will you use your common sense Republicans, Tea Party, Conservatives and Right-Wing Supreme Court Justices, just give people sufficient time to get one. Don't use it to suppress.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • KeninTexas

      I agree, it is not fair to try to enact this requirement and not give people sufficient time to obtain an ID. However, most people already have a valid ID. Those that don't, can get one fairly easily. Many of these requirements were passes over a year or two ago but got tied up in court recently for one reason or another. They are in place now. There certainly isn't any reason they can't be enforced in the next election.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cinchy

    Infringing on the rights of voters is absolutely not a widespread issue. If it happens, it happens extremely rarely and on an exceedingly small scale. It certainly doesn't happen nearly to the extent that this relic of a provision needs to be kept on the books. How insulting to apply it to some states, but not all states. Violating voters rightswillremain illegal and punishable. Newsflash: the Civil War has been over for a while.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      The attempted Infringing on the right of voters happened in quite few states this cycle. Thankfully, it was blocked in most instances by people who took it upon themselves to bring it before a judge.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    First sorry about all my typos! Now DD first of all I NEVER used the word Democrats or referenced Democrats. So I am nopt sure where you are going with that. Now patsj..I have the right to drink and must have an ID to do that. I have a right to work and MUST have an ID to do that. And If I am asked by a police officer I must show my DL everytime. A provisonal ballott just creates another chance for voter fraud on EITHER side. I still do not see what the problem is. The first complaint was it was to expensivebthe person...some states offered FREE ID's and they refused and came up with another reason to say it was unfair. Fact is it is not unfair. And by the way you are only shwoing it every 4 years.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      If you are only showing it every 4 years, why do the Republicans wait until a month or two before an election to demand it?

      November 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      "The fact that anybody would object to show ID or say its racist..or to keep voting down..etc…Is a Liberal Myth."

      You were referring to the Republicans?

      November 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo


      November 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MatTrent

    Reblogged this on RoadRage and commented:
    I wonder if the past elections attempts to suppress the vote will play in the ruling.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Duh...

    many ways to suppress voters...the practice is alive and well in New Mexico...the 3rd largets city in the state ,Rio Rancho had 5 places to vote each with 3 machines...we didn't make the news like messy Florida but a big problem in a electrorial vote small state ..

    November 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. markiejoe

    With what happened in Florida AGAIN this year, the Supremes seriously think that the Voting Rights Act has outlived its usefulness? I think not.

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