The Voting Rights Act Of 1965 Case Analysis

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On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote in Shelby County v. Holder to strike down two main provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The first, Section 4(b), contained the coverage formula that determined which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting. Section 5, which was rendered invalid by proxy, was the actual provision that required certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing new voting laws and practices. Votes in this case were clearly divided among ideological lines, and there were fundamental differences in the interpretation of the law relative to the case at hand and the issue of racism and discrimination at …show more content…
He gave three main reasons for this belief. First, and primarily, he argued that discrimination in voting has progressed enough to no longer require the “extraordinary and unprecedented” features of the section 4. He found that fifty years after the initial passing of the VRA, “blatantly discriminatory evasion of federal decrees [were] rare”, black turnout and registration approached parity, and minorities held high offices at unprecedented levels. Furthermore, the Court noted that the presence of literacy tests and access to ballots, which the formula of section 4 was based off, were no longer issues in contemporary elections, thus making the formula irrational. His second argument was that Congress’ imposition on states’ rights to regulate elections was no longer justified (due to his first argument), and that section 4 represents a diversion too far away from the principles of federalism to be considered constitutional. Despite affirming Congress’ vote to extend the VRA for an additional 31 years in 2006, he argued that Section 4(b) relied too heavily on data and processes of the past, and did not look at the current needs of our political climate. Lastly, he made a small argument for equal sovereignty of states which he argued 4(b) violates …show more content…
Without preclearance for certain jurisdictions, all litigation against violations would have to be done after the fact, and given the time and economic constraints of litigation, most of these violations would go untried for years. Chief Justice Roberts acknowledges the ineffectiveness of the fifteenth amendment before the VRA, and concedes that striking down sections 4 could lead to discriminatory behavior that fostered the creation of the law to begin with, but in fear that declaration would make section 5 free of critique, he appears to have disregarded it. This is substantially less forward thinking than Frank’s idea of legal realism infers, and in fact could be considered backwards, so further analysis on the reasoning behind Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion on this point will be further explored later in this

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