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Online symposium: The Court and the Voting Rights Act

The topic of next week’s symposium is the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which Congress enacted in 1965 to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. Under Section 5 of the Act, a “covered jurisdiction” – an area with a documented history of voter discrimination – cannot make any changes to laws affecting voting without first having the changes “precleared” by either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In 2006, Congress voted to extend the Act for another twenty-five years.  In 2009, in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Court declined to strike down Section 5 but warned that it “now raises serious constitutional concerns.”  Two petitions for certiorari – one hailing from Shelby County, Alabama and another from Kinston, North Carolina – challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 are currently pending at the Court and are likely to be considered this fall; other challenges to voter identification laws and election maps could also reach the Court in the near future.

Lyle provided more background on the VRA and the legal issues in the Shelby County and Kinston cases in his “Made simple” post yesterday. We are grateful to the following contributors who will weigh in next week on the cases currently in the pipeline and how the Court should or will rule on the challenges to the VRA:

Guy-Uriel Charles  – Duke Law

Adam Cox – NYU School of Law and Thomas Miles – University of Chicago Law School

Luis Fuentes-Rohwer – Indiana Maurer School of Law

Richard Hasen – UC Irvine School of Law and Election Law Blog

Heather Gerken – Yale Law School

Nathaniel Persily – Columbia Law School

Rick Pildes – NYU School of Law

Ilya Shapiro – Cato Institute

Hans von Spakovsky – The Heritage Foundation

Abigail Thernstrom – Vice Chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Joshua Thompson – Pacific Legal Foundation

Recommended Citation: Kali Borkoski, Online symposium: The Court and the Voting Rights Act, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 8, 2012, 12:30 AM),