Texas case challenges Voting Rights Act in Supreme Court

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge today that goes to the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This landmark piece of legislation was enacted in 1965 to prevent racial discrimination at the polls. The section of the law at the center of the case requires some states, primarily those in the South, to get federal approval before they can change any of their voting procedures. The changes that require approval from the Justice Department can be as big as a redistricting plan or as small as moving a polling place to a new location. A Texas community got approval for a move, but still decided to take their case to the Supreme Court.

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case today, it will be deciding the fate of a hard-fought piece of civil rights legislation. But now that we have an African American president, some say we no longer need the protections afforded by this act. Is the need to protect minorities at the polls outdated? The Takeaway talks to Ted Shaw. He’s a professor at Columbia University Law School and Of Counsel to the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworksi.


Ted Shaw

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Noel King

Comments [1]

Jen from Brooklyn

The VRA is still incredibly valid today. For example: Although Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to reinforce the 15th Amendment, felony disfranchisement laws remained legal and multiplied. Today, laws in 48 of the 50 states prevent some or all people with felony convictions from voting, totally 5.3 million people - making the United States of America one of the most restrictive countries in the world for the voting rights of convicted felons. Felon disenfranchisement can appear intuitive on the surface - we deny the right to vote to those who breach the fundamental social contract and violate the law. But these laws have deeply racist roots and consequently a distinct racial impact today. This is just one example. We could examine the same types of restrictive, covert proactices for new immigrant populations as well.

Apr. 29 2009 08:13 AM

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