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. David

    When is the South going to figure out they lost the Civil War?

    November 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann

      they are still flying that rebel that obama has won re-election....they choose to fly the american flag upside
      down.....some people will never learn....

      November 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reload

      I think they know they lost.......round 1.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      When are you going to figure out that the civil war ended almost a 150 years ago. I was born in Massachusetts and my great-great grandfather served in the union army. Now I live in Texas. Why am I treated as a second class citizen.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • HenryMiller

      There was nothing "civil" about it.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • are122

      Dave.....because you moved from Massachusetts to Texas!!!

      November 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest citizen

      We all lost something in that one. Some lost more than most

      November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • stephen

      You know, I live in the south, in Alabama, and I don't now what the hell you all from the north are talking about. Maybe it is because I am younger, 36, and didn't grow up during the civil rights area, I am white, i have aeveral black friends and co workers. We all get along fine. There is no more discrimenation here than in the north. We don't live all in mobile homes, and we DON'T all fly rebel flags. Yes, there are always idiots in every group, but see just as much stupidi for those in north as I do in the south. Many of my coworkers are from the north and I am shocked of their views before and afer they get changes, for the better. They don't want to move back. People are nicer in south, they are ot racist, and we undersatand how the world all in the north are the onea that don't have a clue about what it is really like. You watch movies with depictions of what you think the south is like and you couldn't be more incorrect.

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

      You keep the blue states and we'll keep the red ones. How's all that oil you produce in New York working out for you guys?

      November 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • A J Foster

      Hell son: you can't hold federal office unless the south says ok. Look at where the power lies. No longer is the north the key to anything.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DocHollywood

    Well, I guess we can all say goodbye to the Voting Rights act. If you're black, latino, a woman, poor or a democrat, get ready to pay some form of poll tax in the south, whether it's by buying "voter id" papers or waiting in long lines in minority predominate areas. The right wingers are starting to salivate.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • See Novak

      BS. A generation ago almost everyone voted solely on election day. Now, you can vote a month before election day, mail your vote in 2 months before, go to church and the democrats will send you a bus to the polls, or send a college boy to pick you up at the methadone clinic or welfare office and take you to the polls. ANd, for all the slackers out there, you can register AND vote at the same time. Voting is easier in America than anywhere or anytime....and BTW, the Civil War was over 150 years ago, and no, George Bush had nothing to do with it

      November 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • justpaul

      So what you're saying is the resurgent Democratic party is going to retake the south and go back to its old ways?

      November 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      Personally, I'm against all the "get out the vote" causes. The last thing any sane and intelligent person should want is for somebody who ordinarily wouldn't have the self motivation to do a simple thing like vote, and thus almost certainly has no inclination to actually do the research an educated vote would require, to actually go to the polls and vote.

      I don't mind if you vote for the other guy because you believe his policies will work better, or his viewpoints align more closely with your own. I DO, however, mind if you vote for a guy because somebody popular is voting for him, or you like his hair better, or his accent better, or you think he's a more articulate debater. (seriously, debates are possibly the WORST way of deciding who to vote for), or heck, because he's promised to buy you off if you do.

      'Course, in regards to that latter point, I'd actually argue it should be a conflict of interest for anybody who has recieved more money from the government (i.e. welfare, possibly even direct non-military salary) than have given to the government (i.e. taxes) over their lifetime, and thus shouldn't be allowed to vote.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • HenryMiller


      Absolutely correct on all counts.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • cybermonkeytech

      I'd agree that people receiving government benefits shouldn't be able to vote because of conflict of interest, if you include employees of companies receiving subsidies, tax breaks, loans, etcetera, in that group. Oh, and if a campaign issue is raising taxes on the wealthy, then they shouldn't be able to vote, by that logic, as well.

      If you can't tell, that was sarcasm. We all vote for who would do us the most good. It isn't a conflict of interest, it is just an interest. If everyone who has a financial stake in the elections couldn't vote, no one could vote. We all either pay taxes we might want lowered, or receive benefits we might want kept or increased, don't we?

      November 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dreamer96

    Karl Rove actually said it was Obama that was obstructing the GOP voters....What!! Just look at Florida, controlled by the GOP extremist...4 to 6 hours to vote..I wlaked right in in my state voted and walked out...and my state had the results on time...What is wrong with Florida!! They still have not completed the Florida voter count....

    Thank goodness the Obama people planned to win without Florida....We do not care this time if Florida is corrupt and does everything they can to make a GOP win the White House...The Democrats learned from the 2000 election....Don't rely on the Florida vote to win the White House...

    November 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Well said. Unfortunately these same clowns think they won the election on Tuesday as well.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jd

    So. It was continued under president bush and a republican majority in congress. The democrat party sure as a lot of people deceived.

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

    Obama did not win one state that requires ID to vote

    November 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      Barack Obama sure has a lot of breaks, everything seems to go his way! Amazing. He always manages to work things out his way. Where did he he get his super powers!

      November 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      He was bitten by a radioactive leopard in Kenya.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • GRC

      Michigan requires id!

      November 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • emily

      Obama won Connecticut. Connecticut requires some form of identification to vote. Your argument is invalid.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SteveinPhilly

    If we take the oversight away from some of these states that clearly tried to suppress votes this year, what protection would people have? Voting is the ultimate civil right. It needs to be protected by all levels of government. When state politicians try to skew their rules in favor of their own party, they need to be stopped. I hope that there is at least one conservative judge that will put the people ahead of their political interests.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gop hate you

    Always the southern YahoOS that are against ensuring rights

    November 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. libertas78

    If you can't be trusted with a drivers license – something that every NORMAL person I've ever known has had by voting age, why should you be trusted to vote for the future of our country??? We are on the way to a time really soon now when white people are going to be the minority in this country. I wonder how many homeless people were bussed into the polls from street corners and sewer grates to steal this election? With promises of a free obamaphone??

    November 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      It's nice to see that you understand the diverse lives of every person in this country. Your empathy is also simply amazing.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken Margo

      We know who you obviously listen to on the radio, to repeat such garbage.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SummerSchoolForGOP

      Face it: You are a 𝗿𝗮𝗰𝐢𝘀𝘁, 𝗯𝗶𝗴o𝘁.

      You also write about things you don't understand. "Obamacare," which was modeled after the health plan that Mitt Romney put into place in MA, requires that people buy insurance rather than freeloading off of others by showing up in the ER uninsured, and sticking the rest of us with the bill.

      Why should some inner-city resident who does not drive have to get a driver's license in order to vote? Why should you be able to waltz in with something you happen to have anyway and they have to take time off of work in order to get just to vote?

      November 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      ..many of those homeless ppl you have so much contempt for are veterans...many more have disabilities and still many are just hard working people that need a break....frther, does the fact that theyre homeless mean they dont have a right to vote? The more conservatives/republican types talk is the less the World wants to here...slowly but surely the World is locking you into the cold dark place you live in and allowing you to consume yourselves in your bitterness...we...people of color...people of light have moved on...

      November 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KWS

    I'd like to know the total cost of monitoring and enforcing this old law. How many government workers are sitting in cubilces making paper airplaines on our dime, doing "real" work just a few months a year? What's the cost of the buildings, utilities, pensions, health care, etc., etc., to keep them sitting there? If it's more than $50,000, it's TOO MUCH.

    Have your laws, and make the police, FBI and other law enforcement agencies enforce them... like the immigration laws!

    HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Stupid government.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James PDX

    My goodness, America is stupid and hateful. No wonder we get such terrible candidates to choose from. We've earned them.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    Don't you ever tire of the stereotypical southern jokes? Give it a rest. I'd think by now that the miserable economic conditions in the bankrupt northern states would change your minds about who really won that war.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ebtiger24

    There is nothing about this case that will deny a person's right to vote. It is just an effort to get rid of the outdated laws that are burdensome financially to states and municipalities every time ANY change has to be made that impacts voting. It's ridiculous this day in age. The federal government still has plenty of oversight in this area. Bull Conner and George Waalace are dead and gone. We have a 2 term black president with a Muslim sounding name. It's time to move on people.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GIUK

    Alabama is going to lose soooooooooooooooooooo big.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • gg

      Still a conservative court.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Carol Johnson

    I say they should keep it in place for I remember when my parents could not vote because they did not have the dollar to pay for the poll tax. We are now seeing many states who want to make restrictions on those who can vote by all kinds of things such as having a photo ID, having to submit your birth certificate and when you have all of those then they ask for your marriage license if you are a woman who has changed you name from the one on the birth certificate even if you have voted for 60 years. All it is that republicans want to restrict the old, the young, the poor, the minorities, and any who they think would vote for democrat. The supreme should go further than the states want them to go and demand that any who are citizens of this great country and have registered with the proper identification, such as their as birth certificate, name and address, age, married or single and have some kind of bill such as a phone bill or from the power company should be sufficient!!!

    November 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
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