Fri Feb 22, 2013, 08:31 PM
struggle4progress (91,186 posts)
Uphold Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
It is tempting to declare that racial discrimination is over, but, as Congress determined after compiling a record of more than 15,000 pages, that is simply not the case.
By Erwin Chemerinsky
The National Law Journal
February 25, 2013
... It always is tempting to declare that our society is post-racial and that racism is over. In 1883, less than two decades after the Civil War, the Supreme Court in the Civil Rights Cases declared unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and said that "when a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficent legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws."
Now challengers to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act are arguing that the law is no longer needed because race discrimination in voting is largely a thing of the past. That is simply wrong, and the Supreme Court should defer to the nearly unanimous judgment of Congress that this law remains an essential weapon in the fight against race discrimination in voting.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is one of the most important civil rights laws in American history. Section 2 of the act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or against certain language minority groups. Under the 1982 amendments to Section 2, the act is violated by state or local laws that have the effect of disadvantaging minority voters. Lawsuits can be brought to challenge state or local actions that are alleged to violate Section 2.
But Congress, in adopting the Voting Rights Act, concluded that allowing lawsuits to challenge election procedures was not adequate to stop discrimination in voting. Lawsuits are expensive and litigation is often lengthy. Congress was aware that especially Southern states often invented new ways of disenfranchising minority voters. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was adopted to prevent such actions ...
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