“Who Controls Voting Rights?”

Reuters Opinion has posted my latest commentary, the last in the symposium on the Shelby County case.  It concludes:

If Section 5 really is no longer needed, that’s a judgment for Congress to make. The states covered by Section 5 are hardly powerless, and there’s no reason now for the Supreme Court to substitute its judgment for that of Congress. The court need not protect states that did not take steps to protect themselves.

More to the point, the law is scheduled to end, or sunset, in 18 years. At that point, as in 2006, opponents of Section 5 will have congressional inertia on their side.

If, as we all hope, Section 5 is no longer needed, it can then die of natural causes. But it should not be subject to preliminary execution by the Supreme Court.

Here are all the commentaries in the series:

 

Decision: Voting Rights

Related Topics:

If the court strikes down Section 5

Richard Hasen says that if the Supreme Court kills Section 5, which insures that states or jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination need federal approval for any changes in election law, the big question will be: What comes next? Reuters has invited leading academics who focus on voting rights and election law to participate in a forum on this important issue  Commentary

Who controls Voting Rights?

Richard Hasen asks why the decision on Section 5 is for the Supreme Court to make and not the political branches of government. Commentary

Making sure race is considered

Janai S. Nelson says that Section 5 makes sure that race, the elephant in the room for much of U.S. election law, is discussed openly and thoroughly.   Commentary

The partisan politics of election laws

Guy-Uriel E. Charles and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer say that If the court does strike down Section 5 it will give Congress an opportunity to update the act for the 21st century.  Commentary

The strong case for keeping Section 5

Morgan Kousser writes that five-sixths or more of the cases of proven election discrimination from 1957 through 2013 have taken place in jurisdictions subject to Section 5 oversight.  Commentary

What of congressional power over voting?

Franita Tolson says that if the Supreme Court invalidates Section 5 it would be a clear rejection of broad congressional authority to regulate state and federal elections.   Commentary

Watch out in the covered jurisdictions

Michael Pitts says that on the local level, there could be widespread retrogression – from redistricting plans that end ‘safe’ districts to cities annexing suburban white populations to reduce minority voters’ influence.  Commentary

A signal it’s time to change the court

Justin Levitt believes that Section 5 does not demand utopia. It asks only that new laws not make things worse.  Commentary

Opting into the Voting Rights Act

Heather Gerken says that other voting protections against racial discrimination are too costly and cumbersome to protect minorities from tactics that Section 5 now deters.  Commentary

Why Section 5 survives

Abigail Thernstrom wonders if Justice Anthony Kennedy, the pivotal vote, wants banner headlines that read, “Court declares Voting Rights Act unconstitutional”?  Commentary

The next Voting Rights Act

Spencer Overton says that we need new protections. The U.S. is near the bottom of advanced democracies in voter participation.  Commentary

Reform the oversight formula

Christopher Elmendorf says that the Justice Department or a new panel should be responsible for deciding which states are subject to review.  Commentary

Focus on new legislative approach

Richard Pildes says that stepping outside the Section 5 template and embracing a model with universal protections for the right to vote may be far more effective.  Commentary

 

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