The Voting Rights Act – its constitutionality and its future
June 26, 2013
Guests: Gary May and Heather Gerkin
The Voting Rights Act which was passed in 1965 to prevent racial discrimination in voting practices gives the federal government the right to approve any changes in election laws in nine states, mostly in the South, where the rights of blacks were historically denied. Yesterday, in the case of Shelby vs. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down a crucial provision of the law — saying that Congress must change the formula it uses to determine which states are required to get clearance by the U.S Justice Department or federal courts before changes to their voting laws are made. In its majority opinion, the Court said the data the government uses is outdated and that high voter registration among blacks in the South and the re-election of a black president is proof that minorities were no longer disenfranchised when it comes to voting. Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, point to the 2012 elections where long lines at the polls and efforts to change voter ID requirements were significant problems. We’ll discuss the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling and the history and future of the Voting Rights Act with Yale University law professor HEATHER GERKEN and University of Delaware historian GARY MAY.