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. Penny Wright

    Republican black voter suppression continues.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      "Republican black voter suppression continues."

      You are correct except its not just blacks the want to suppress but minorities in general. Looking at the demographic breakdown of who voted for the Democrats it's no surprise.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      Not just black voter suppression. The voter suppression of anyone living in poverty.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • J G

      Activist idiocy continues!

      November 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crow

      You are partially correct. The GOP is certainly behind the Court's inquiry BUT the GOP is interested in making it difficult for votors of all flavors that see their subversive backwards policies as the evil they are. You may have noticed where the lawsuit originated. Deep in the traditionally rascist South. That fact alone speaks volumes.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      They hate to play fair. Keep the law as is.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUh

      There should be a federal law that any election on a federal issue require voer identification. This does not make it harder for anything. In most places you need an ID for almost everything. To get a cell phone, cable tv, a credit card, almost anything where you have to prove who you are you are required to prove who you are. This is not unreasonable.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • areyoureallythatstupid

      Yeah those Republicans standing outside the polling places with blackjacks trying to intimidate voters....oh wait that was the Black Panther wing of the Democrats, my mistake

      November 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff


    November 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • SusieTX

      Texas too.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      Add Oh in the investigate list!

      November 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roundball Randy

    The court needs to revisit after His Royal Highness has time to reshape into a Marxist arm of jurisprudence. Then and only then will the Republik be safe from conservatives.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Let's see, by "His Royal Highness" I assume you're talking about Obama. A man who was born of mixed race into a broken home, and raised by his grandparents until he could strike out on his own. Certainly you wouldn't be talking about Mitt Romney, who was born into an incredibly wealthy family, went to the best schools, bullied students less fortunate than himself, then grew up to run a firm that ruined dozens of companies and offshored the jobs of working people, all so he could keep his own royal lifestyle going. How blind can you be? Pretty blind, apparently. Sorry. Obama isn't royalty. He was elected twice by popular vote in a democratic process. If you find that difficult to swallow, I'm sure there are still flights to Saudi Arabia, where there is a nice royal family you can make snide remarks about, then be put in jail hours later. Grow up.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo


      November 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DustyOnes


    November 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SFRich

    Uh-oh... we're asking the SCOTUS to once again weigh in on what's right for elections. Aren't the Supreme Court justices the same wisdom minds that ruled that corporations (US and foreign) had the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections?

    I hate to see where this is headed.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • cj90210


      Yes, and this is the same court that had no problem of wiping out 50 years of settled law with Citizens/United. I guess I shouldn't be suprised that they even took this case given the current make up of activist CONSERVATIVE justices...

      November 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      The rich will need those tax breaks to make up for the money they wasted on Mitt and Karl!

      November 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Honestly

    The very notion that politicians are allowed to tinker with election methods is shocking- from gerrymandering to voter suppression. There needs to be an independent national body that controls elections.

    Pathetic that the rest of the world looks at the USA and can rightly snicker how backwards we are in this regard.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Libby

    Ya don't think voter suppression is real? Talk to a Floridian or Ohioan who stood in line for 6+ hours and those LONG lines were in BLUE districts!

    November 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • salinesolution

      It doesn't take a genius to look at these " blue districts" and realize that most of them are in urban areas with a high pop density. Poor planning yes, voter suppression,definitely not.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • anthony

      salensolution. you almost have it. its supression being passed off a poor planning. they only had 4 fricken years to get ready. how did they go about it? cut the time to vote. that is one of two things. voter supression or stone cold retardation. you pick.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wiseup

    wiseup: national election standards prevent individual states ajusting hours of polling stations to suit there partys effort to curtail voters.. Florida found out that didn't work. nor in Ohio. National standards for all 50 states + DC would call for Number of days and number of hours (10). that would give people who work days time to vote after work.As far as the electorial college it is here to stay,like it or not.. It got "W" elected in 2000 while losing the popular vote.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NWJoe

    One only needs to read the diatribe from some Republicans to know that ignorance and prejudice are alive and well!

    November 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FLORDIA!

    I find the situation absolutely ridiculous, but it's the citizens their that need to demand this be taken care of immediately and if not, elect new officials who will!

    November 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • salinesolution

      I would demand answers, but waiting in line for a long time isn't illegal. I was in and out of my polling place in Florida in under 30mins (would have been less if not for the rediculous amount of long winded amendments)

      November 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • tkinil

      Um, supreme court justices are not elected. They are appointed. By the very guy you just elected.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      Barack Obama only appointed TWO justices. Kagan and Sotomyer.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dang Right

    Considering america has only been a democracy since 1965, i think we should leave it in place just a little while longer.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crow

      The US is a republic based on democratic principles. It is not now nor ever has it been a democracy. Despite the grumping of some federal elections are best conducted under the same set of rules for all states. Voting is a citizen privilege. It is NOT a state's right. As such the standards should be controlled from the federal level. Monitors? Absolutely necessary given some of the antics that commonly happen outside the polling places. I think that this time around they found a conservative group demanding ID from anyone before they were allowed to pass into the polling place. Werte they arrested? No. The local yokels just told them to disband. Clearly more monitoring is required. Not less.

      November 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wiseup

    Wiseup : all the milliomns that the Koch Bros., Adelson,And others got a 1.29% return on the repubs election efforts. As Ricky Ricardo ( from the show I Love Lucy)would say Karl ,you got some splaining'to do.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Disgruntled Buckeye

    Politicians should not mingle in the election process but on the same note neither should the black panthers or any other party with a one sided agenda!!!

    November 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      Where did the Black Panthers talk come from? Stop being paranoid!

      November 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Al Russell

    The recent attempts at voter suppression from the GOP sadly indicate that Federal oversight is still very much needed.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bill, Bloomington Il

    Racism is still here. What was the percentage of blacks that voted for Obama? Anyone?

    November 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      The same amount of whites that voted for Mutt Romney.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • SFRich

      i recall reading that the percentage of blacks that voted for Obama was around 94%. That's pretty high, but I'd be wiling to bet the percentage of rich white men that voted for Romney was even higher.

      Perhaps we should get John Sununu to explain that.

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