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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Does § 2 of the 14th Amendment impact analysis of VRA's preclearance requirement?

In The Constitutional Structure of Voting Rights Enforcement, Professor Franita Tolson argues that by viewing Congress's authority under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment in the context of section 2 of the amendment, Congress's authority to regulate voting and elections is broader than the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Such reconsideration suggests that the preclearance requirement is within Congress's section 5 enforcement authority. Here's the abstract:

Scholars and courts have hotly debated whether the preclearance regime of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional under the Reconstruction Amendments, but in answering this question, this Article is the first to consider the effect of section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment on the scope of Congress’s enforcement authority. Section 2 allows Congress to reduce the size of a state’s delegation in the House of Representatives for abridging the right to vote in state and federal elections for “any reason except for participation in rebellion, or other crime.” This Article contends that section 2 influences the scope of congressional authority under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which gives Congress the “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Section 2, with its low threshold for violations (i.e., abridgment on almost any grounds) that trigger a relatively extreme penalty (reduced representation), illustrates the proper means/ends fit for congressional legislation passed pursuant to section 5 to address voting rights violations. Renewed focus on section 2 also sheds light on the textual and historical links between the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, links that provide a broad basis for Congress to regulate state and federal elections. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder, this Article concludes that requiring preclearance of all electoral changes instituted by select jurisdictions under the Voting Rights Act is actually a lesser penalty than reduced representation under section 2, and thus is consistent with Congress’s broad authority to regulate voting and elections under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

CRL&P related posts:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/civil_rights/2013/12/does-2-of-the-14th-amendment-impact-analysis-of-vras-preclearance-requirement.html

14th Amendment, Election Law, Right to Vote, Voter ID | Permalink

Comments

Democracy was "Reborn" with the passing of the 14th Amendment. That is the title of Garrett Epps' great book: Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and The Fight For Civil Rights in Post Civil War America. You can find it on Amazon and have it at your home within days. We need to look at the Original Intent of the Framers of the 14th Amendment. Some justices and some scholars think that Original Intent is about Original Framers of the First Constitution.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 7, 2013 6:52:24 PM

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