Supreme Court Strikes Down Voting Rights Act ‘Preclearance’ – Stage Set For Increased Discrimination

With yet another 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The high court ruled the “preclearance” formula in Section 4 as unconstitutional, stating that the formula, used to determine which states and jurisdictions are subject to federal approval, was outdated.

The New York Times — The current coverage scheme, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, is “based on 40-year-old facts having no relationship to the present day.”

“Congress — if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions,” he wrote. “It cannot simply rely on the past.”

The decision did not strike down Section 5, which sets out the preclearance requirement. But without Section 4, which determines which states are covered, Section 5 is without significance — unless Congress chooses to pass a new bill for determining which states would be covered.

I understand this ruling even if I disagree with it. It makes sense to update the criteria used to determine which jurisdictions are subject to Section 5 enforcement, but we know that will not happen with this congress. By striking down Section 4, the Supreme Court opens the flood gates for more voter discrimination in the 9 states previously subject to extra scrutiny. I believe all 50 states should be subject to that scrutiny, but the Supreme Court doesn’t write new laws, it only determines the constitutionality of existing legislation. Congress will need to pass new legislation if we are to ensure fair and equal access to the polls. But don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, if you think intimidation and discrimination against minorities was bad in the past election cycle, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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