THEN: President Johnson Signs 1965 Voting Rights Act into Law
Update (July 19, 2013) the headlines and historical look back from here - a very good read. Highlights:
“Section 2 is a ripe target,” (said Christopher Elmendorf, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.
If the [Roberts] court were to strike down or substantially weaken Section 2, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) would technically still exist, and would retain a few historically important functions — ban on poll taxes and literacy tests, for instance. But, on top of the demise of Section 5, the most successful civil rights law in the nation’s history would be all but a dead letter.
“There’s no question that Section 2 and 5 together are really the heart of the law,” (said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School).
So, what will the 5-4 Roberts court do ... naturally no one knows, but not for their lack of trying and that is based on the recent 5-4 ruling that triggered me to start this tracking blog ...
Stay tune and read on - the original post and updates start from here. Thanks for stopping by.
Update (a review from here): Very good analysis of where we are and how we got here.
And, where we are now from here (same author): The most-important aspect is this: Less than one year after Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act stymied voter suppression efforts in the 2012 election in Florida, Texas and South Carolina, Chief Justice John Roberts in his opinion in Shelby County v. Holder (above link) heralded that the "great strides" the nation has made in combating such suppression and the fact that "blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare." Not so rare. Before the sun set that day, June 25th, officials in Texas and North Carolina had moved forward with restrictive voting measures that had been blocked by the federal law.
Talk of the nation (no, not the radio show of the same name), but the June 25, 2013 Supreme Court (5-4) decision to roll back an important and critical part of the law, cited here in part that was overturned, reported by NBC News report here and from USA TODAY here:
The Voting Rights Act requires nine states with a history of discrimination at the polls, mostly in the South, to get approval from the Justice Department or a special panel of judges before they change their voting laws. The rule also applies to 12 cities and 57 counties elsewhere.
The law was renewed most recently in 2006, but the coverage map still uses election data from 1972 to determine who is covered. Some jurisdictions, including the Alabama county that brought the case, complained that they were being punished for the sins of many decades ago.
Chief Justice John Roberts cited census data showing that black voter turnout now exceeds white turnout in five of the six states originally covered by the law and he wrote in part: “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions."
Also, an excellent source for information on voting and voters rights is the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. Their statement on this 5-4 ruling today follows (emphasis is mine):
The Brennan Center for Justice released the following statement: “The Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effective tool to eradicate racial discrimination in voting. And it is still critical today. Last year, Section 5 helped block laws making it harder to vote. There is a path forward. Section 5 stands. Congress now has the duty to upgrade this key protection and ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.”
I hope we all can agree on this part of statement: "... (to) ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans."
Will Congress update the law quickly and not cause any disruption for 2014 and beyond? That is questionable considering the stalemate and gridlock attitude down there, but I advise them to keep quote in mind from Chief Justice Earl Warren in Reynolds v. Sims (1964): "Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests."
I wonder if they know what means for all the grand daughters and grand sons of the future like the one pictured above? We are about to find out.