Supreme Court to Review Key Section of Voting Rights Act
The Supreme Court on Friday said it would decide the constitutionality of a signature portion of the Voting Rights Act.
The justices three years ago expressed skepticism about the continued need for Section 5 of the historic act, which requires states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, to get federal approval of any changes in their voting laws.
It is the second important case involving race that the court has accepted this term. Last month, the justices heard a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions policy that could redefine or eliminate the use of affirmative action in higher education.
The Section 5 requirements were passed during the darkest days of the civil rights struggle, paving the way for expanded voting rights for African Americans and greatly increasing the number of minority officeholders.
But critics say that the method for selecting the places requiring special supervision — nine states and certain parts of seven others — is outdated and that there is no need for imposing greater requirements for some areas of the country.
The court will be reviewing a decision last spring by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to uphold Section 5.
First passed in 1965, the act was most recently extended in 2006 with lopsided votes in both houses of Congress and signed with fanfare by President George W. Bush.