Skip to main content

U.S. Supreme Court to review the 1965 Voting Rights Act

john a. powell, director, Othering & Belonging Institute | February 26, 2013

The October, 2012 term of the United States Supreme Court promises to be one of the most momentous in American History.  Last fall, Court heard argument on the constitutionality of Affirmative Action in higher education in Fisher v. Texas (see my discussion of that case here). On Feb. 26, the Court will hear oral argument on a facial challenge to the Constitutionality of several parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as reauthorized by Congress in 2006, in Shelby County v. Holder.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires federal preclearance to changes to electoral rules or voting procedures by states covered by the Act.  This prophylactic provision was created in recognition of the failure of case-by-case challenges to voting rules and procedures to prevent, remedy and deter voting discrimination, and the paramount need for structural change, especially in Southern states with a history of racial discrimination in voting.

In 2009, the Court hinted that the conditions that “justified” these preclearance provisions may no longer exist, yet declined to answer that question in Northwest Austin Municipal Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder.  This month, the Court confronts that question directly.   Shelby County, Alabama has challenged the preclearance provision as an unconstitutional intrusion into local authority and as an unjustifiable burden on state and local officials seeking to change or modify electoral rules.

The Haas Institute believes that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is not only historically significant, but stands as contemporary example of the kinds of structural reforms necessary to improve local conditions and guarantee equal citizenship.   For more on this case, the pleadings and other briefing materials, please go to Scotusblog’s archive.

Comments to “U.S. Supreme Court to review the 1965 Voting Rights Act

  1. The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court: Discrimination is alive today unfortunately; Liberty and justice for all is openly sabotaged and the Supreme Court is inviting trouble of great magnitudnal proportions if it dares to fail its ultimate mandate: to uphold everyone’s constitutional rights.

    We not only need to keep the protections in the current Voting Rights Act, it should be expanded. The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year’s voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crow era is biding its time, lurking in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to rear its head once again.

    The entire nation will speak against it because the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is not about political parties; the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is about individual rights protection. Bank on it! it is time to review; the Supreme Court’s “entitlements,” as it is no longer acting as an unbiased institution and that, your magistrates, can be amended. Get up and do your job or we will make it happen! Count on it!

    Now even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights law on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite ends on this ? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles?

    Well, I will tell you what I think. I think there may be a dozen or two men and women in America that have the means to buy the power it wants to call all shots in this Country. The only way they can obtain this right now is get the people they want in office. To buy them, so to say. But they know they can be stopped at the voting polls. They know the more that they get out and vote, their chances are reduced substantially. George Will knows this and should be ashamed. He say 47 years old. Is that old? I don’t think so. Look at the constitution, at that II Amendment a lot older right. Social Security, Medicare, still very new in the big picture. But look at who wants to change them. Not working men and women, no the big bosses. They do not like to make payments; that is what this is all about. They did not like it back in the 1930s and they do not like it now.

    So Americans. do not be fooled and all of you older people that now have this little benefit fight like h— to keep it just as it is. It just might be all there is between eating and striving !!

    All the republicans crapping about The Voting Rights Act (VRA) on this board and the likes of you in the REPUBLICAN House should move aside in 2014 because the REPUBLICANS are the crux of the problem. President Obama won the elections of 2008 AND 2012 fair and square, but the REPUBLICANS are not allowing him to govern through their rule of RECORD number of filibusters in the Senate and the HOUSE of REPUBLICANS has achieved nothing since it came to power in 2010.

    In 2014 it’s the REPUBLICAN’s time to go and let OBAMA, our democratically elected PRESIDENT, rule the country and leave a legacy behind like the achievements of the 2008-2010 years when DEMOCRATS had the House Senate and the Presidency. We want the obstructionist REPUBLICANS out of the way in 2014. We want our House and Senate back in the DEMOCRATIC hands so we can govern and achieve something. All these doomsday fiscal deadlines that REPUBLICANS keep pushing on the country will haunt them in 2014!! Mark my words. March 4th 2013. Vote Democratic always!

  2. Some social conservatives and tea party fanatics would love to return to the days of yesteryear when Jim Crow laws were SOP, and political intimidation of voters at election precincts was frowned upon, yet widely tolerated … and some justices on the SCOTUS appear to be all too eager to accommodate this quest for social devolution.

  3. The fact is that the 60s and 70s were as good it got for advances in civil, voting, women’s and human rights in America.

    The 2012 election rhetoric proved that American Democracy and all of our rights are under attack by the forces of Fear, Greed and Hate that are dedicated to returning us to 19th century social, political and economic conditions.

    It’s up to Cal professors like yourself to prevent this from happening.

Comments are closed.