Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

February-27-13

Supreme Court Hears Lawsuit on Voting Rights Act

Today, the justices of the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for the fifth time since the law's passage in 1965. This section of the Voting Rights Act mandates that areas of the nation with a history of barring people of color from voting must get approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court before they alter voting rules. A plaintiff from Shelby County, Alabama, is challenging section 5, saying that the discriminatory environment that once justified its enactment is much improved. Civil rights groups disagree, saying that the situation is improved because of the Act. In past challenges to the law, the Court has cited the fifteenth amendment - no governmental body can stand in the way of an individual's right to vote - in their decision to uphold all components.

Frank "Butch" Ellis, attorney to the Shelby County plaintiff, told NPR that "The South has changed[.] There's probably bits of [discrimination] everywhere, but there's no evidence that it's more prevalent in these covered jurisdictions than it is in the non-covered jurisdictions. That's our complaint." Ellis argues that the federal government oversteps its bounds in dictating what certain states can and cannot do with its voting rules.

A voting rights expert who has filed briefs on various voter suppression cases, Pam Karlan, said that "Shelby County still advertises itself as the heart of the Heart of Dixie, and that tells you that some things have not changed, or at least haven't changed enough to take the bandage off the wound."

A county or city with ten consecutive years without questionable proposed changes to its voting structure is exempt from federal monitoring.Politico notes that Shelby County has not toed the line; the city of Calera (within Shelby County) proposed a reshaping of its district in 2008 which would reduce the number of African American voters from 70.9% to 29.5%. The Department of Justice rejected the proposition, citing the rights of all people to select their representatives.

The case goes before the court after an election year that included multiple legislative attacks aimed at suppressing minority voters. Last year, 17 states passed voter suppression laws that increased wait times at the polls, decreased early voting days, and mandated state-issued IDs requirements for voting. New laws affecting the election process have already been suggested this year in preparation for mid-term elections.

Media Resources: NPR 2/27/2013; Huffington Post 2/27/2013; Politico 2/26/2013; Feminist Newswire 2/20/2013, 9/13/2012


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

3/25/2015 Afghan Woman Beaten to Death for Burning Koran - A 27-year-old woman ‎who reportedly burned a copy of the Koran inside of a riverside shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan was brutally beaten and burned alive on Thursday. Shocking videos quickly spread on social media showing crowds of men surrounded by hundreds of onlookers assaulting the 27-year-old Farkhunda with bricks and sticks and repeatedly kicking her. . . .
 
3/25/2015 Masked Intruder Attacks Last Abortion Clinic Standing in Mississippi - In the early hours of the morning Monday, a person in a mask wielding what appeared to be a machete attacked the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. The clinic revealed in a post on their website the details of the attack on what is affectionately referred to by staff and community members as The Pink House. . . .
 
3/17/2015 Vice President Biden Pledges 41 Million to Clear Rape Kit Backlog - Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Mikulski (D-MD) spoke yesterday at a Maryland State Police Laboratory to declare their support for a $41 million budget proposal to combat the national backlog of rape kits. "Testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States of America," Vice President Biden said, referring to the estimated 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide. . . .