The Supreme Court just struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that the requirement that many states across the south get prior federal approval for voting law changes is unconstitutional.
The substance of the decision, which split the court five to four, will be widely picked over, so I wanted to focus instead on the practical consequences of it going forward. Voting rights advocates expect the decision to give a major boost to efforts by conservatives across the country to pass laws restricting access to the franchise — which Dems and voting rights advocates refer to as the “war on voting.”
The Court ruled that when Congress reauthorized the law in 2006 — which was done by overwhelming majorities and signed by President George W. Bush — that its requirement for “pre-clearance” of state laws, i.e., Section 5, was based on an outdated formula.
But Section 5, among many other things, helped stall two state-level initiatives designed to restrict voting during the 2012 cycle, and to mitigate a third, according to Wendy Weiser, a voting rights attorney for the Brennan Center for Justice. Weiser notes that Section Five blocked a Texas voter ID law; blocked changes to early voting in Florida that might have disproportionately impacted African Americans; and caused South Carolina to “dramatically mitigate” a voter ID law that ended up far less “harsh and restrictive” than its original provision.
From The Secular Jurist: This tweet is apropos: