The Supreme Court’s decision last year eliminating a barrier against voting procedure changes in mostly Southern states came with a caveat: Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the Voting Rights Act still included a “permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting.” Now federal courts from Texas to Wisconsin are on the verge of deciding whether Roberts was right — or if what remains of the 1965 law after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling is less able to stop states from making it harder to vote. An appeals court hearing Friday in the Wisconsin case, following a two-week trial in a Texas district court, might point the way back to the Supreme Court. Cases in North Carolina and Ohio also could be headed that way. Those states and others have made voting more difficult in recent years to combat what they claim are instances of voter fraud. Texas imposed strict new photo identification rules hours after the Supreme Court ruling. North Carolina cut back on early voting, same-day registration and provisional balloting. They were among 15 states freed in whole or in part from Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of discrimination to clear any changes with the Justice Department. The high court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down the list of states dating back a half century. Wisconsin and Ohio were not Section 5 states. But Wisconsin’s list of restrictions and Ohio’s cutback on early voting are targets for the next-best defense against discrimination: Section 2, which puts the burden of proof on victims to prove racial discrimination in voting once changes have been enacted. “This is a test for how strong Section 2 can be, how strong a bulwark it’s going to be against voting discrimination going forward,” says Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “I think it is highly likely that one or more of those cases will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court at some point.” Since the 2010 elections, 22 states have enacted new restrictions on voting, according to the Brennan Center. In 15 of those states, the upcoming federal elections will be the first to test their impact. Lawsuits have been filed in seven of them, including three — North Carolina, Texas and Arizona — formerly covered under Section 5. Full Article: Voting rights cases may be headed back to Supreme Court.