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U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of Section 5

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On February 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a challenge by Shelby County, Alabama (Shelby County v. Holder) (12-96), regarding the constitutionality of the 2006 reauthorization of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  In 2009, in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, the Court said that it had “serious constitutional concerns”, but it decided the case on other grounds.

The specific question the justices will consider is as follows:

“”Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

The stakes are high in this case.  The preclearance provisions in Section 5 have been used to ensure that minority rights are protected in covered jurisdictions, which have had a history of discrimination. Opponents of the reauthorization argue that the formula used in 2006 is outdated and does not reflect modern day realities of the electoral gains by minorities.  Proponents maintain that preclearance under Section 5 is still necessary because discrimination still exists.

A decision is expected in June.

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Written by Admin

February 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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