Civil Rights

US Supreme Court to Review Voting Rights Act Case Out of Shelby County, Ala.

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The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will review the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Under Section 5 of the statute, which was first enacted in 1965 and last extended by Congress in 2006, state and local government entities with a history of discrimination must get federal approval of changes to their voting laws. Although some say times have changed enough that such review is no longer needed, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year said it wasn’t up to the judicial branch to second-guess federal lawmakers on the issue and upheld the law challenged by Shelby County, Ala., the Washington Post reports. The case is Shelby County v. Holder.

Now the nation’s top court will decide the question. In doing so, it will limit its review to the following question, which the supreme court itself worded, notes SCOTUSblog: “Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

Additional coverage:

Bloomberg: “Voting Rights Act Challenge Gets U.S. High Court Hearing”

The Birmingham News (Oct. 2012): “Supreme Court won’t rule today on Alabama challenge of Voting Rights Act”

Montgomery Advertiser (Oct. 2012): “Supreme Court ruling nears on Shelby County challenge to Voting Rights Act”

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