Arizona has filed another lawsuit challenging the authority of the federal government. This time, the focus of the federal challenge is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Arizona is the first state to challenge the constitutionality of sections of the federal law that forbid states from enacting a law or process that denies or limits someone’s right to vote based on their race or color.
The sections at issue require states that failed to meet certain criteria in 1972 to get federal approval for any state legislation or procedural change that could impact voting. Nine states failed to meet that criteria, which included having low voter turnout and not offering election materials in other languages. The nine states are Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Arizona in 1974 implemented bilingual voting, but Congress never removed Arizona – or other states that now comply – from the list. The criteria has never been updated. So for more than 30 years, Arizona and its municipalities have had to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for things such as legislative or school-district boundary changes, revisions to driver’s licenses and laws requiring tax hikes to go before the voters.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit, said the original criteria for pre-approval are no longer relevant or constitutional, and Arizona no longer needs the federal government’s scrutiny.
Horne filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and asked for a hearing before a three-judge panel. The lawsuit asks the court to either eliminate the original criteria for scrutiny as well as the pre-approval requirement or at least exempt Arizona from the requirement.
“The historical Voting Rights Act was meant to overcome horrendous voting discrimination that occurred in the South,” Horne said. “But they implemented an irrational system. We are being severely penalized for something that happened in 1972 that was corrected in 1975. It’s not only unconstitutional, I think you could describe it as crazy.”
He said the things the federal government must review are so broad that many have nothing to do with discrimination, such as school-district boundaries and tax increases. Dozens of pieces of Arizona legislation must get approval each year, which can sometimes take months and delay enactment. Nearly all get that approval.
Full Article: Arizona sues over Voting Rights Act.