US Supreme Court to Consider Overturning Vital Achievement of Civil Rights Movement

Bloomberg News, November 11, 2012

The Supreme Court will consider overturning a signal achievement of the civil rights movement, agreeing to hear a challenge to part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a case loaded with racial and political ramifications.

Acting three days after minority voters propelled President Barack Obama to re-election, the court Friday said it will review a provision that requires all or part of 16 mostly Southern states to get federal approval before changing their voting rules. Opponents say that “preclearance” provision is no longer warranted.


Chief Justice John Roberts has questioned the constitutionality of the preclearance rule, which the Obama administration used this year to stop Republican-backed voter-identification laws in Texas and South Carolina from going into effect.


Preclearance “has been one of the most powerful tools in the civil rights arsenal,” said Heather Gerken, a professor at Yale Law School who specializes in election and constitutional law. “It’s made more of a difference in improving the civil rights of African Americans than any other statute I can think of.”


The Voting Rights Act was enacted to combat discrimination that kept black people away from Southern polling places for generations.


Under the preclearance requirement, a covered jurisdiction must seek approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing voting district lines, polling places or other aspects of the election system. The Justice Department has used the requirement, also known as Section 5, to object to more than 2,400 state and local voting changes since 1982.

In the case before the justices, Shelby County, Ala., objects to the law’s method for determining which states are subject to Section 5. The law uses a formula that relies on a state’s decades-old voting patterns and rules.


The formula was designed to include the states with the deepest history of racial discrimination — Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. Three other states — Alaska, Arizona and Texas — were added in the 1970s when the statute was expanded to protect “language minority” groups.


The Obama administration urged the court not to take up the issue, saying a federal appeals court was correct in upholding the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County case. The administration points to instances of intentional discrimination in covered states and to data it says show that those jurisdictions still need close monitoring.

Serious Constitutional Questions

A Supreme Court ruling in a 2009 case indicated that a majority of the nine justices may consider Section 5 to be outdated. Roberts wrote for the court that the provision raised “serious constitutional questions” because it applied only to some parts of the country. “We are now a very different nation” than in 1965, Roberts wrote.


Supporters of the Voting Rights Act say the 2012 election shows the law is still needed. Democrats and minority groups say Republicans engaged in voter suppression by imposing identification requirements and limiting early voting hours.

“At the time of the last case people wondered whether voting discrimination was still with us in the United States,” said Debo Adegbile, acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “Today they know the answer is yes.”


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  • This ought to be open and shut.  Federal laws are Federal laws everywhere.  You can’t have espionage be a crime in Iowa but not be a crime in Vermont.

  • .

    This is about voter ID. Voter ID has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with stopping voter fraud. Those UN observers that were such a big deal before the election were shocked that we don’t already require voter ID .



      America was formed to protect Liberty and Freedom.  We no longer have Liberty and Freedom so the USA no longer has any purpose of existing.  We did not create this situation, we tried to prevent it.  Well within ten or 15 years there will be two nations were one existed.  

  • Liberalsuck

    I definitely think the Civil Rights Act should be repealed in regards to telling businesses they can’t discriminate.   As long as you are a legalized citizen and pay taxes, you should be allowed to vote and own a firearm and such.  That’s it.

  • WR_the_elder

    So requiring voter id is now “voting suppression”.   Every state issues state ids that don’t require that you know how to drive.  It really isn’t too much to ask that people who want to vote go through the trouble to get an id.  The Democrats are all but admitting that they require voter fraud to get elected.  Ironically, you couldn’t get into the Democratic National Convention without showing valid id.

  • libertarian1234

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about what the Supreme Court does.

    After the political hack John Roberts twisted the situation around to allow the health insurance mandate forcing people to buy insurance because he disingenuously called it a tax, that destroyed the final shred of respect I had for that bunch.

    It is becoming almost entirely a side show of freakish looking rabid liberals most of whom don’t even believe in the constitution as it was written and offer unsound reasoning for their decisions that are not based in the constitution but their own perverted liberal agenda, which of course is why Clinton and Obama appointed them.

    As I understand it, Obama is probably going to be able to appoint at least two more judges, which will allow the court to render nothing but liberal nonsense, and the second amendment will be so restricted each firearm could well require a GPS tracking device….if we can keep guns at all.

    Making them wear white powdered wigs with their baggy robes, as they do in Britain, would just about put the finishing touches on that strange-looking crew.

    • The Dred Scott decision proved to the nation that the US Supreme Court would not allow Congress to compromise or attempt to settle the dispute over slavery.  This past year the Supreme Court proved that the nation will not be allowed to enforce the law or let the States conduct their own elections.  None of this need happen if the US Supreme Court  enforced the Law rather than invent Law.  

      Nothing lasts for ever.

  • GB101

    Section 5 applies not to named jurisdictions but to jurisdictions that in 1960 and 1964 had fewer than a certain percent of adults registered to vote.  We are now in the year 2012.  If this part of the law ever was constitutional the basis for the case is no longer valid.  A decade ago a representative from Georgia attempted to infuse the law with some intellectual honesty.  He proposed a bill to trigger Section 5 based on voter registrations in the most recent two elections.  

    The Republicans were at that time in charge of the House.  Speaker Hastert allowed the bill to be voted on but told his people not to vote for it.  It would seem insensitive, I suppose, and would hurt the Republicans among minority voters.  You can see how well Hastert’s approach worked.  


    No way in hell will the Roberts Nuremberg style Court  end the outrage of the 68 Voting Rights Act.  Besides the damage has already been done and too little too late.  Someone should tell Roberts the nation is going to breakup because of his disgraced Court and he and his Court can goto BLAZES.  Decent people cannot and will not live in what the nation has become.

    • Michael Alan Prock

       I think I would like to leave you in my will.

  • razorrare

    Just testing…why mess up a good thing? An ignore button would of been nice.