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Alabama Challenge to Voting Rights Act


Dame_Enda

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Could the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which forced the South to stop disenfranchsing African-Americans, be overturned by the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court?

The SC has begun hearing a challenge by Shelby County, Alabama, to Section 5 of the Act, requiring 9 mainly Southern states to preclear changes to voting rules (including number of polling stations, ID requirements etc.) with the Justice Department, which has the power to block them. The states/localities subject to Section 5 are: "Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx".

Congress renewed the Act for 25 years in 2006. But several conservative SC justices have expressed misgivings as to the constitutionality of the law:
Judge Anthony Kennedy said:
there is a federalism interest in each state being responsible to ensure that it has a political system that acts in a democratic and a civil and a decent and a proper and a constitutional way..“The Marshall Plan was very good, too...But times change.”.
Judge Antonin Scalia said:
Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now amounted to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Conservatives have a 5-4 majority on the SC.

The liberal judges defended the Act. Judge Sotomayor retorted to Scalia, asking "do you think the right to vote is a racial entitlement?". Judge Elena Kagan said that under any formula, Alabama would be included under the scope of Section 5, based on the number of voting-rights suits, and that the 9 states were responsible for a disproportionate number of voting rights violations. Judge Stephen Breyer said voter-suppression was a disease that had improved but was still there.
 


Sync

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Sounds like something that will struck out. It's clearly impeding on state federal rights in an unfair manner. If it was a 50 state requirement to get signoff it might be more arguable, but picking on specific states seems clearly unfair.
 

borntorum

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Sounds like something that will struck out. It's clearly impeding on state federal rights in an unfair manner. If it was a 50 state requirement to get signoff it might be more arguable, but picking on specific states seems clearly unfair.
It does a bit. Roberts pointed out that Massachusetts has the worst turn out of black voters and the worst disparity in voter registration, and wondered why the law didn't concern itself with that state.

Scalia is a complete turd of a man, though.
 

Dame_Enda

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When you consider the woman mentioned in the State of the Union address that had to wait 7 hours to vote in Florida you see that voter-suppression remains a big deal in some Southern states in particular, though Florida is not covered by Section 5.
 

Sync

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I'm not saying voter suppression is unfair or that the states in question don't practice it. I'm saying I thinkg that forbidding certain states from managing their voting rules themselves will be held to be unconstitutional.
 

Papillon

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It does a bit. Roberts pointed out that Massachusetts has the worst turn out of black voters and the worst disparity in voter registration, and wondered why the law didn't concern itself with that state.

Scalia is a complete turd of a man, though.
I thought it was a bit funny that he would mention that, actually many of the comments mentioned in the article mostly seemed irrelevant to whether or not the law is constitutional. Discussions about formulas for applying the law surely should be confined to congress, but I'm no lawyer.
 

borntorum

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I thought it was a bit funny that he would mention that, actually many of the comments mentioned in the article mostly seemed irrelevant to whether or not the law is constitutional. Discussions about formulas for applying the law surely should be confined to congress, but I'm no lawyer.
It probably would be here. I don't know if this provision has been previously upheld by SCOTUS, though I'm guessing it probably has been, given how significant and contentious it has been. In Ireland, if the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of a piece of legislation, that's it; it doesn't revisit its decision later on
 

owedtojoy

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Could the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which forced the South to stop disenfranchsing African-Americans, be overturned by the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court?

The SC has begun hearing a challenge by Shelby County, Alabama, to Section 5 of the Act, requiring 9 mainly Southern states to preclear changes to voting rules (including number of polling stations, ID requirements etc.) with the Justice Department, which has the power to block them. The states/localities subject to Section 5 are: "Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx".

Congress renewed the Act for 25 years in 2006. But several conservative SC justices have expressed misgivings as to the constitutionality of the law:Conservatives have a 5-4 majority on the SC.

The liberal judges defended the Act. Judge Sotomayor retorted to Scalia, asking "do you think the right to vote is a racial entitlement?". Judge Elena Kagan said that under any formula, Alabama would be included under the scope of Section 5, based on the number of voting-rights suits, and that the 9 states were responsible for a disproportionate number of voting rights violations. Judge Stephen Breyer said voter-suppression was a disease that had improved but was still there.
On this issue, the Supreme Court is finely balanced.

Justice Anthony Kennedy would be considered the "swing" vote on this case, and on gay marriage. While he voted to strike down ACA, on civil rights issues, he is considered more liberal than the likes of Scalia, Alito or Roberts.

But, after Roberts jumped ship on the ACA, who knows what might happen?
 

owedtojoy

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I'm not saying voter suppression is unfair or that the states in question don't practice it. I'm saying I thinkg that forbidding certain states from managing their voting rules themselves will be held to be unconstitutional.
It was not unconstitutional for the Court to interfere in the 2000 Presidential Election and decide how Florida should vote.

Oh, yeah, the Court also decided "we won't do this again" so that makes it alright.
 

seabhcan

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Its a mad situation that the US decides on a local level how people should vote. UN observers have always said that monitoring US elections is the hardest in the world because there are literally thousands of different voting systems in use across the country. Very, very easy to fix an election under conditions like that.

Maybe if this law is struck out, it will result in proper and uniform federal level regulations on federal election voting.
 

NYCKY

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It's not just states in the deep south that are covered by section 5, admittedly most of the states there are covered either wholly or partially. However parts of several other states like even NY and California have areas covered by section 5.

Fifty years later, with an African American President, it is worth asking is this still really necessary.
 

Casualbets

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I'm not saying voter suppression is unfair or that the states in question don't practice it. I'm saying I thinkg that forbidding certain states from managing their voting rules themselves will be held to be unconstitutional.
Gotta agree. If there has to be federal oversight, it has to be spread evenly....
 

Paddyc

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It's not just states in the deep south that are covered by section 5, admittedly most of the states there are covered either wholly or partially. However parts of several other states like even NY and California have areas covered by section 5.

Fifty years later, with an African American President, it is worth asking is this still really necessary.
To quote Stephen Colbert on challenging the Voting Rights Act: "Yes, I used to beat my girlfriend, but I haven't since the restraining order so we don't need it anymore."
 

Dame_Enda

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The SC has struck down Section 4 of the VRA. Predictably it was a 5-4 decision. Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito for the majority, with Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan dissenting. What it means is that the Dept of Justice will no longer have a prior veto on changes in electoral law by the states. Texas has announced their tougher ID laws will come into force immediately.
 

TiredOfBeingTired

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It's not just states in the deep south that are covered by section 5, admittedly most of the states there are covered either wholly or partially. However parts of several other states like even NY and California have areas covered by section 5.

Fifty years later, with an African American President, it is worth asking is this still really necessary.
The mid term elections next year could show the problem.
If it returns, it will be a lot more subtle.

There are also non-racial reasons why federal oversight is a good idea.
I wouldn't trust much coming out of Cook County, Illinois.

 

PeacefulViking

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To quote Stephen Colbert on challenging the Voting Rights Act: "Yes, I used to beat my girlfriend, but I haven't since the restraining order so we don't need it anymore."
Because a state can be analogized to a person without problem.
 

Dame_Enda

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Republicans in close Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina will be pleased by this. Florida deserves to have such restrictions given the 7 hours some African Americans had to wait to vote last year. The GOP systematically disenfranchise minorities and have been doing so for decades. They can't legally prevent people voting explicitly based on race. The way they get around it includes: limiting numbers of polling stations in minority areas, making polling stations hard to find, vote caging-lists (sending voters letters to confirm they exist and then erasing them from the rolls if they don't reply), voter ID cards that must be paid for or accessible only if you have driver-licenses, trying to introduce charges for voter ID etc.

Texas was trying to force people to pay for Voter ID. They will probably try that again now rhat this ruling has passed. It could still be illegal though as the VRA bans poll-taxes.
 

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