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Will Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Survive?

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In light of two recent constitutional challenges to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, legal experts and supreme court insiders may be wondering if the U.S. Supreme Court will entertain a challenge to Section 5 during its current term. With the redistricting cycle about to begin, a decision by the court could have a major impact on preclearance of redistricting maps.

On June 22, 2009, in an 8-1 ruling in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder, Attorney General (NAMUDNO), the court left the door open for future constitutional challenges when it held that the Act raises “serious constitutional concerns.”  Even thought it held that political subdivisions can bail out of the preclearance requirements of the Act, many opponents of Section 5 believe that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when it reauthorized the Act in 2006, and thus argue that the Act should be struck down.

Recently, Judge John Bates, U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a discovery request by the U.S. Attorney General in Shelby County, Alabama v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General (Civil Action No. 10-0651) and ordered that the government and defendant-intervenors file an opposition to Shelby County’s motion for summary judgment by November 15, 2010.  The county may file a reply brief by December 15, 2010.

Shelby County is the most recent case challenging the constitutionality of Section 5.  Laroque v. Holder, Civil Action No. 10-561 (D.D.C. June 14, 2010) also asks that the court declare Section 5 unconstitutional.

Stay tuned for more analysis.

Written by Admin

October 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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