Supreme Court to Reconsider Voting Rights Law

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 12, 2012

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After the election has come and gone, with less than perfect polling methods, the Supreme Court says it may do away with a government mechanism against racial discrimination in state voting processes. 

The court justices are reconsidering a provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires 16 states with histories of voting discrimination to appeal to the federal government before making alterations to their election procedures. The request to hear the issue comes from Shelby County, Alabama, where officials claim the federal law is no longer needed as the state has come a long way since a time of voting discrimination, according to reports. 

Many would agree this is a touchy constitutional consideration. Proponents of keeping the law in place argue that the need still exists in light of the federal government’s intervention in state attempts to implement voter ID laws. They would also site the Justice Department’s actions in stopping Texas from drawing new district lines that would allegedly suppress Hispanic voting. Discrimination has been cited against not just blacks and Hispanics, but also Asian Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives. 

Supporters of removing the federal voting oversight maintain that the law is based on out-dated data and that the government’s intrusion in unnecessary. It would not be far off base to conclude that many supporters belong to a political party that seeks to reduce federal government oversight of individual state law. Five other states have backed Alabama in its appeal, including Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas, all red states. 

Which Other States Does the Law Affect?

The law currently requires the following states to appeal to the federal government’s civil rights authorities to change their voting procedures: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The law extends to certain counties and jurisdictions (but not the entire state) in: California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Michigan and New Hampshire.

With a split panel of justices, the controversial case will likely be argued in early Spring of next year. 

To learn more, review the articles and attorney answers in the Civil Rights Law section of

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