Tags: Voting Rights | Voting Rights Act | challenges

5 Times the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Has Been Challenged by State Legislation

By    |   Sunday, 08 Nov 2015 02:28 PM

The Voting Rights Act was written into Law in 1965, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The landmark federal legislation has faced legal challenges to some of its provisions brought before the courts by certain states.

Here are five challenges to the Voting Rights Act.

1. South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966)
The state of South Carolina challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, it challenged the need for states to obtain preclearance before changing voting rules, according to Oxford Reference. South Carolina’s argument was that the preclearance infringed upon individual states’ rights to govern their voting practices and set laws. However, in an 8-1 decision, the Court upheld Section 5. Chief Justice Earl Warren’s opinion “addressed both the general power of Congress to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment and each of the challenged provisions.”

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2. Allen v. State Board of Elections (1969)
The state of Mississippi attempted to alter its state voting regulations, but failed to report the changes for preclearance. In an attempt to fight the state, “Black citizens filed a court challenge to several of those provisions, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court's watershed 1969 decision in Allen v. State Board of Elections, holding that the state could not implement the provisions unless they were approved under Section 5,” according to The Leadership Conference.

3. Oregon v. Mitchell (1970)
A challenge to the act was made over voting age requirements by the states of Oregon, Idaho, and Texas. Their claim was that, “Only the States, and not Congress, have the authority to establish qualification rules for voters in State and local elections,” according to Information Please. In the end, the court declared that an 18 year age requirement is valid for national elections but not for state or local elections. Resulting from this case, Congress proposed the twenty-sixth amendment, which set “a uniform national voting age of eighteen in all elections. The States promptly ratified it.”

4. Georgia v. Ashcroft (2003)
In 2003, the state Legislature of Georgia passed a “redistricting” plan that was supported by many leaders in the African-American community “because it would have spread black voters and influence across several districts rather than concentrating them in a select few,” according to Oyez, a project of the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law. However, Georgia’s governor opposed the plan. In the end, the “U.S. District Court ... rejected the Legislature’s plan.”

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5. Shelby County v. Holder (2013)
Most recently, the Voting Rights Act was dealt a blow in the minds of its many supporters. In 2013, in a 5 to 4 vote, “The Supreme Court ruled ... that the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the VRA, which was used to determine the states and political subdivisions subject to Section 5 preclearance, was unconstitutional. Thus, while the Court did not invalidate the preclearance mechanism in the VRA per se, it effectively halted its use by invalidating the formula that determined which places were subject to the preclearance obligation,” The Leadership Conference noted.

In other words, states need no longer apply for preclearance before making changes to their voting laws. The new ruling has already been taken advantage of in states such as Texas, which now requires a valid photo ID to vote in elections.

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The Voting Rights Act was written into Law in 1965, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The landmark federal legislation has faced legal challenges to some of its provisions brought before the courts by certain states.
Voting Rights Act, challenges
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2015-28-08
Sunday, 08 Nov 2015 02:28 PM
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