Saturday, March 1, 2014
Voting rights activists hope courts will impose preclearance under VRA on five previously covered states
ProPublica has this excellent overview of ongoing litigation in five states with newly minted voting laws. Each of these states had been subject to section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requiring government approval of all new voting measures--on account of the extensive history of racial discrimination against minority voters there. But, SCOTUS overturned that provision in Shelby Co. v. Holder. Now, voting rights activists are hoping courts will impose preclearance on those states for alleged violations of the 14th or 15th Amendments as provided for under the VRA's "bail-in" provision. As ProPublica's Kara Brandeisky reports:
Before the ruling, states, counties and other jurisdictions that were subject to preclearance had to get every single voting change approved – whether they wanted to require a photo ID to vote, change voting hours on Election Day or move even a single polling place.
Under “bail-in,” the court can tailor oversight to the situation. A state that enacts an unfair redistricting map, for example, may only need to submit its next map for federal approval.
To prevail in court, plaintiffs must prove a jurisdiction intentionally crafted laws or rules to discriminate against minorities. Although that’s not an easy standard to meet, it’s been done before: In the nearly 50 years before Shelby County v. Holder, courts imposed federal oversight requirements at least 18 times after finding that minority rights had been violated.
So far, the Justice Department has joined two lawsuits against Texas and has launched its own case against North Carolina. Following is a rundown on all the lawsuits, and an update on the effort in Congress to amend the Voting Rights Act after last year’s court ruling.
Ten such challenges are onging in five states--Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas.
CRL&P related posts:
- Congressional Authority to Protect Voting Rights after Shelby County and Arizona Inter Tribal
- Shelby County's impact on voting rights policy will likely be 'deeply destabilizing,' argue Profs. Charles and Fuentes-Rohwer
- Plaintiffs in voting rights lawsuits will have procedurally and substantively less protection under § 2 of VRA, writes Professor Stephanopoulos
- Responses to civil rights problems: universalistic, particularistic, or both?
- Does § 2 of the 14th Amendment impact analysis of VRA's preclearance requirement?