The End of the Voting Rights Act?
Posted at 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2012
The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, and Nathaniel Persily thinks it has a decent chance of succeeding.
“The central question in the constitutional debate is whether times have changed enough in the nearly five decades since the act’s passage to suggest that the law has outlived its usefulness… The case before the court, coming out of Shelby County, Ala., concerns Section 5 of the act, which requires some states and jurisdictions (mostly in the South) to seek permission from the federal government before they can implement any law related to voting.”
“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the constitutionality of Section 5 four times. Congress re-enacted it in 2006 with tremendous bipartisan support. But times have changed at the court. Specifically, the constitutional standard for enforcing civil rights has become more restrictive… In a coarse and obvious sense, the re-election of a black president serves as a strong reminder that the historic obstacles to minority voting rights like literacy tests and poll taxes have been eliminated.”