The U.S. Department of Justice has been forced to explore different strategies to protect voters from discriminatory and burdensome election laws in the void left by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Without a formula to determine which jurisdictions must preclear their election laws under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2 is the next best option to protect voters.
In light of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, most election law experts across the country immediately focused on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as the best defense against law makers and radical voting law changes like those passed recently in North Carolina. As the dust has settled, the focus has shifted to another lesser discussed portion of the Voting Rights Act, Section 3.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, “From Selma to Shelby County: Working Together to Restore the Protections of the Voting Rights Act” on the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act. When SCOTUS threw out the current formula for preclearance, they left the door open for congress to create a new one. The question remains though whether congress can come together to decide if a new formula is needed and what that new formula should be.
The Supreme Court of the United States delivered several landmark decisions over the past few weeks. Though there was major progress for Civil Rights, the Supreme Court delivered a major blow to the voting rights community and minority voters throughout the country.
The Supreme Court of the United States waited until the last week of decisions to announce their ruling on Shelby County v. Holder. This case was the second voting rights decision this year, but unlike Arizona v. ITCA this decision was not a win for voter advocates and voters.
Today, the Voting Rights Act turns 47 years old. The 1965 law was passed to put an end to Jim Crow-era laws that, along with intimidation and violence, disenfranchised black Americans in the South. Even when black southerners were able to register to vote, they were often required to pass literacy tests, recite the preamble of the Constitution from memory, and pay poll taxes. The Voting Rights Act gave the federal government the tools to prevent discriminatory voting practices passed by the states and guarantee the right to vote for all eligible voters.
Texas claimed this week in a court filing that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act should be overturned because it violates the United States Constitution. The state is currently suing the federal government to obtain approval of a law that would compel Texans to produce a photo ID before they are allowed to vote. Texas claims that the strict ID requirement is necessary to prevent voter fraud. However, the U.S.