The U. S. Supreme Court seems poised to declare Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. The challenge, filed by Shelby County, Alabama, was invited by signals sent by the Supreme Court in earlier cases. It will be surprising if the decision departs from the Court’s ideological and partisan 5–4 divide. Section 5 requires that 9 states and parts of 7 others — all with a history of discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities — get approval from the Department of Justice or the federal court in Washington before making changes to voting laws or procedures. This “pre-clearance” is designed to ensure that changes do not have a retrogressive impact on the voting rights of minorities. … The tactics of voter suppression have changed since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. It is less common that people of color face violence or are murdered when they try to exercise their fundamental rights as a citizen. Instead, bureaucrats purge voter rolls and legislators restrict voter registration activities. … The tactics of voter suppression have changed, but voter suppression has not ended.
Look at the performance of Florida officials. For the 2012 Election they tried to make it harder to register to vote, harder to vote, and harder to ensure that your vote will be counted. And then they lied about it by claiming that these restrictions were necessary to address voter fraud, or as the governor claimed, to prevent “potential fraud.”
Is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act still needed? Our Legislature and governor are walking advertisements for why America needs the Voting Rights Act and why it would be a disaster for the U. S. Supreme Court to end federal oversight.
But even if the court strikes down Section 5, the fight will not end. The search for other tools to defend the right to vote will intensify.