Supreme Court Cuts Voting Rights Act of 1964

Ken AshfordConstitution, Race, Supreme CourtLeave a Comment

Today, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling, struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  Basically, they eliminated the requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination pre-clear election and voting law changes to ensure they do not disenfranchise minority voters. While the remaining provisions will still ban outright racial discrimination, those states and localities previously covered will now be able to implement changes first and victims will have to prove discrimination after the fact.

You may wonder how many times a proposed law fails to get-precleared in this day and age.  Well, in the past year, the U.S. Department of Justice denied pre-clearance to four laws it deemed discriminatory — and federal courts upheld three of those four determinations.  Those three cases involved stricter voter ID laws, shorter voting hours, and redistricting — all the ways in which the GOP tried to disenfranchise the minority vote this past election cycle.

It bears repeating that disenfranchising the minority vote is still forbidden under the Voting Rights Act, but now it will just become harder to stop the States from doing it once the pre-clearance oversight is scrapped.