On February 27, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the key provision that requires states with a history of denying minority rights to gain approval of the Department of Justice or Federal Court prior to making any changes in voting procedures.
Section 5 mainly covers nine southern states where discriminatory voting procedures were routine prior to the Civil Rights movement. The current case before the Court originates in Shelby County Alabama, where officials are challenging Section 5 because they believe that it no longer applies.
The Brennan Center for Justice insists that the Supreme Court must fully uphold the Voting Rights Act, based upon the experience of 19 states passing more than two dozen measures that would have effectively made it harder to vote, “the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era.”
Prior to the 2012 election, the Brennan Center worked with many other voting rights advocates in Texas and Florida, among other states, to thwart efforts to suppress voting rights. The Brennan Center points out that without Section 5, “voters would need to challenge restrictive laws on a case by case basis—after they are already enacted. It would allow discriminatory laws to remain in effect while opponents endure the slow and expensive litigation process of challenging them.”
The Voting Rights Act, and Section 5 were critical in defending voting rights in the 2012 election. The Supreme Court decision in this case is critical for promoting racial justice in Gulf South states and the nation.
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