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. wiseup

    wiseup: There needs to be a national standard of states election policies. How long a preiod of early voting. any purging of voter roles must be done well before an upcoming electons. Voter Ids laws must make it easier for older citizens to obtain increase the number of places photo ids can be obtained by any govt. facility, such as a BMV, Court house, Post Office, Etc. College students photo Id Should be sufficent. Any purging should send those purged notice and give them opportunity to challenge purge.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • classybusiness

      If anything Voter Rights need to be strengthened. Politicians are using underhanded methods to stack the deck in favor of themselves (or their party). This past election is a case in point. Florida is a perfect example. Texas is a close second.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Absolutely right! The lines and lines of voters that conservatives tried to disenfranchise by manipulating procedures, staffing, registration, etc., are perfect evidence for retaining, and EXPANDING this law. Voting standards need to be set and monitored nationwide.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexasAnne

      Because we all know how hard it is to get a fake drivers license or student id card, right......
      Honestly, those 2 have got to be among the WORST forms of ID you could ask for. Ask any law enforcement officer how many fake DL's & student ID's they see. (Some states have made DL's harder to dupicate, but there's still a long wat to go,)

      November 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • ckoffend

      Why should there be early voting? We have an election day in this country. We offer absentee ballots for those out of the area on election day or those that are required to work all day. Absentee ballots should be accepted within a limited window of no more than two weeks. How can anybody intelligently make up their mind further out than that? The world changes and changes fast – a person does not have all the info. they need to make an intelligent voting decision months in advance. You need to be a US citizen to vote – trying to vote and not being a US citizen is illegal and deportable.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. us_1776

    I think we just witnessed exactly why the Voting RIghts Act is still key to ensuring fair elections.


    November 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NPhxAz

    Wifey says never trust a man in a dress.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mitzi

    If you have nothing to hide, you should have no objection to anything in the Voting Rights Act. Period.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Urblammo

      That has been the argument of every dictator in history

      November 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      Voter with student id is disqualified to vote but with gun permit,what kind of democracy we conduct in voting?

      November 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sagebrush Shorty

    All men are created equal. However some are now more equal than others.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kc

    While the idea of having a univeral standard is good, yeilding to the feds on the issue is an issue. Especially if the locals have to pick up the tab.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. t3chn0ph0b3

    If anything, the rhetoric behind this election should display without a shadow of a doubt that we should move to renew the voting rights act for another 50 years. Screw 25.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Keith

    I fully expect the SCOTUS to f this up.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam the Earthbound

      They might do just that. I would not be all that surprised, actually.
      But they also might be saving up their "special f-up powers" for something else, too.
      We will see....

      November 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ingyandbert

    I'm sure Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are barely able to contain their excitement over the chance to gut this pesky precedent and return election law to the Jim Crowe era.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:32 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 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MikeNY

    Gee, Alabama, what a surprise!

    November 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rick Geary

    This is the last breath of a dying breed.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. julnor

    At some point the federal govt needs to stop its oversigt of the states on this issue. These states will always have a history of discrimination (you can't change history), but the power of the federal govt needs to be restrained.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      You make absolutely no sense. You contradict yourself.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dnick47

    I agree with most of you, this law needs to be applied equally across all 50 States, DC and the territories. The dung heap goes way beyond thr old Confederacy extending up here to Michigasn where our Sec. of State tried to purge the voting rolls of unworthies.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. people's is idiots

    what we need right here is to get rid of the electoral college which is clearly outdated and just enforce i.d. based voting. pretty goddam simple. just like you peopleseses

    November 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      The reason for the electoral college is make sure candidates don't just visit the areas with the largest population.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LogicalThinker

    A quick knee-jerk reaction: Florida voter suppression, GOP legislature restricting early voting, Miami just completed counting ballots today. Wonder how awful the voting burden would be in south Florida without any federal protections.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
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