“Raising Red Flags about Shelby County”

Travis Crum at Take Care:

If you’re a voting rights advocate or a law review editor, you might have noticed something different on Westlaw. After the Supreme Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act’s coverage formula in Shelby County v. Holder, Westlaw displayed a “red flag” on four previous decisions upholding the VRA, including South Carolina v. Katzenbach, which famously established the rationality standard for Congress’s Fifteenth Amendment enforcement authority. On Westlaw, a red flag means that a decision has been overturned or abrogated, thus signaling to bench and bar alike that it is no longer good law. Relatedly, Westlaw’s description of Shelby County’s holding stated that those four decisions had been abrogated.

But after a recent back-and-forth between Westlaw representatives and me, Westlaw has revised its description of Shelby County’s holding to delete any reference to abrogated decisions and to remove any corresponding red flags. So why did Westlaw change course? Because Shelby County addresses only the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA’s coverage formula.

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