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Tue, 06.25.2013

Shelby County v. Holter decided

Protesting the ruling

*On this date in 2013, Shelby County v. Holder was decided.  This was a landmark United States Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices; and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.  

On that date the Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that Section 4(b) is unconstitutional because the coverage formula is based on data over 40 years old, making it no longer responsive to current needs and therefore an impermissible burden on the constitutional principles of federalism and equal sovereignty of the states.  The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without Section 4(b), no jurisdiction will be subject to Section 5 preclearance unless Congress enacts a new coverage formula.  Some critics have said that the ruling has made it easier for state officials to make it harder for Black and other nonwhite voters to vote.  Research shows that preclearance led to increases in minority congressional representation and increases in minority turnout. 

Five years after the ruling, nearly 1,000 polling places had been closed in the U.S., with many of the closed polling places in predominantly Black counties. Research shows that the changing of voter locations and reduction in voting locations can reduce voter turnout.  There were also cuts to early voting, purges of voter rolls and imposition of strict voter ID laws.  Virtually all restrictions on voting subsequent to the ruling were by conservative Republicans.  

Reference:

Cornell Law.edu

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A closed window looks down on a dirty courtyard, and black people call across or scream across or walk across defying physics in the stream of their will. Our world... KA ‘BA by Amiri Baraka.
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