The Supreme Court hears arguments today in what could be a landmark Supreme Court ruling regarding the state of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act, first signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was a major piece of civil rights legislation aiming to reverse a practice that long disenfranchised black Americans.
Today a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is being challenged. It's known as Section 5, and it requires certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to have all changes in voting laws and requirements approved by the Justice Department or by a federal court in Washington, D.C.
The Justice Department calls Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act one of the "most consequential, and amply-justified exercises of federal power in the nation's history."
In an argument against Section 5, Shelby County, Alabama makes the case that the South no longer discriminates and should not need to seek oversight when amending their voting laws.
In 2006 the federal government extended the Section 5 provision for twenty more years.
John Neiman is the solicitor general for Alabama. He co-authored an amicus brief in support of Shelby County in Shelby County v. Holder, but he is not representing the county before the court today. He wants to see Section 5 struck down by the court because he believes it's no longer relevant.