Supreme Court Invalidates Part of Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Invalidates Part of Voting Rights Act

The ruling is here.

Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, governments in certain parts of the country were required to seek permission ("preclearance") from the federal government before changing their voting policies; this was intended to stop Southern states from recreating Jim Crow-style restrictions. However, the VRA's "coverage area" was based on contemporary voting statistics, and while some early changes to the act updated the formula, the 1982 and 2006 reauthorizations did not -- meaning that until the Court's ruling today, the coverage area was still determined by data from the 1960s and early 1970s.

The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees all American citizens the right to vote, and authorizes Congress to enforce that right via "appropriate legislation" -- but the federal government has no general authority to "preclear" state legislation, and there is a presumption that the states are equally sovereign. The question for the Court was whether it remains "appropriate" for the federal government to use this data to subject some areas, but not others, to preclearance. In a 5-4 vote, the justices said no, it does not.

Here is a chart of voter registration the majority used to buttress its case:

Racial Gaps in Voter Turnout

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