U.S. Supreme Court
Scalia: Reauthorized Voting Rights Act was ‘perpetuation of racial entitlement’
Posted Feb 28, 2013 7:23 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservatives appeared ready to strike down preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act during oral arguments on Wednesday.
All eyes were on swing voter Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose questions mostly appeared to favor the challenge to the law's advance approval requirement by Shelby County, Ala., the New York Times reports. Kennedy asked whether Alabama is an “independent sovereign” or whether it must live “under the trusteeship of the United States government.”
Nine states, mostly in the South, and parts of seven others are required to get advance Justice Department approval of any changes to voting practices under the law. The list of preclearance jurisdictions has not changed since 1975, the New York Times says. At issue is whether Congress exceeded its authority under the 14th and 15th Amendments when it reauthorized the law with a coverage formula based on old data.
Scalia noted that opposition to the law has decreased with each reauthorization, until no one opposed it in 2006, according to The BLT account.
"I think that's attributable to a phenomenon that has been called the perpetuation of racial entitlements," Scalia said. "Once you enact them, it's very hard to get out. I'm fairly confident this will be re-enacted in perpetuity" unless a court steps in to examine the justification. "The concern here is this is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress."
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