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. GGinBhamAL

    Alabama doesn't have the "voter suppression" issues seen in other states. A lot of the issues were in so-called "battleground states" and most of them they aren't covered by this provision. Why should this act be imposed on a few states who no longer discriminate when there are other states with much worse recent histories?. Either apply the law to every state, abolish the law, or re-write it so that it is appropriate for the 21st century.

    November 10, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Well, as little as 6 years ago, there obviously was, since they renewed it for 25 more years...making it applicable for the 21st century, being as it was renewed in the 21st century...

      November 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • GGinBhamAL

      Just because the federal government or the courts do something, that doesn't mean they should. Case in point, Citizens United.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      Citizens United? That was the US Supreme Court upholding the First Amendment. You don't think the First Amendment should exist?

      November 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • MBM

      What that shows is that you do not know what you are talking about. The south does still discriminate they are just not as obvious about is as they used to be. They want it abolished so they can put up strict voter id laws, cut early voting and purge rolls dont think it wont happen. Thats what their intent is

      November 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • GGinBhamAL

      "The South" does not discriminate any more than some other parts of the country. Yes, there is bigotry and prejudice there (just like there is in this blog), but we've made a lot of progress over the last 40 years. I don't believe our governments are still controlled by racists. As previously noted, there are parts of the country that are not subject to the preclearance clause that maybe should be. I'm not proposing scrapping the Act, just amending it to meet current conditions and making it fair and consistent.

      If a polling place in Birmingham, Alabama wants to buy new polling booths, for example, they should be able to do so without requesting proir permission from the Justice Department.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jules

    The Supreme Court should not scrap the voting rights act of 1965 as long as Florida is part of this country. My gosh – think it's time to get a clue there on how to run an election?

    November 10, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • GGinBhamAL

      Florida is not subject to the preclearance clause, which bolsters my point. Revisit the law and update it to match modern realities.

      November 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shanman

    Why is it always the red states that have a problem with something like this =\ Hmmm, lets see...

    November 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gerrymandering

    Hey Supreme Court, you didn't hesitate to go behind America's back and decide that corporations are people, so what's stopping you now?

    November 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • btlprod

      When did that happen? Corporations have had the same rights, in this country, as people since the early 19th Century. Without that there is no way for them to enforce a Contract or to enforce a contract on them.

      November 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • gep1955

      Sure, use the laws and supreme court to punish corporations with more regulation, higher fees and taxes if they want to do business here. Two things will happen, they will close US operations and move overseas or prices will go up on all the things you buy from corporations, like food products. Been to a grocery store lately?

      News flash liberals, when you force a business to send more money to DC the less money they have to hire/pay workers. Multiply that by 50,000 businesses and corporations and you have our current state of affairs. Way to go.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sam

    OUR US Supreme Court, being Conservative are traitors to the people about elections. They allow big corporations to control the election and now want to take away the laws that allow all people to vote. The supreme court has set up elections where corporations are in control now.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Leroy

    Just the fact that we are debating this provision deems its existence necessary. The point that we will no longer need it is the point at which it will expire unnoticed.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    The republicans punish voters for belonging to unions, suppress the minority vote, and fire Latinos because they might have voted for Obama, and the racist Supreme Court is considering limiting protections for minorities to vote instead of expanding them.

    November 12, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nic Driver

    The GOP tried to steal votes with redistricting and voter ID laws but they still lost. Now they want the Fed's out of the oversight business so they can simply steal the election by any means available. One thing that we've learned along the way is the need for oversight and it's clear that the GOP needs to be watched more than any other segment of our population.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
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