Supreme Court Ruling Opens Doors to Racial Discrimination in Voting System

By: Christina Quinn
Blog Category: Racial Implications of Recent Supreme Court Decisions

On a Tuesday in June, 2013, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“Voting Rights Act”), which required certain states to receive clearance from the Justice Department or Federal Courts before making changes to voting procedures. The majority of the Supreme Court held that section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. However, the Court did not strike down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets forth the pre-clearance requirement. Section 4 determined what states must receive clearance from the Department of Justice or Federal Courts. Moreover, Section 4 was a significant provision because it worked to prevent lawless conduct by officials who were determined to bar African Americans from voting.

The impact of the ruling is likely to be felt in the Southern states, which are most strongly impacted by the Voting Rights Act. States such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia, are now free to make minor changes, such as changes to voting procedures, or major changes, like redrawing electoral districts without pre-approval by either the Justice Department or a Federal Court. Racial discrimination in elections is precisely what the Voting Rights Act had prevented for many years and this Supreme Court ruling has opened the doors to once again allow racial discrimination in the voting system.

Source:

Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act, New York Times, available at  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/us/supreme-court-ruling.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (last visited October 10, 2013).

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