Is the Voting Rights Act Constitutional?

On April 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments to decide whether Section 5 of the recently reauthorized Voting Rights Act is constitutional. The case, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder, has been described as "the biggest election-law case on the court's docket since Bush v. Gore" and one that "will set the direction of the debate over race and politics for years to come."

Reauthorized for the next twenty-five years in 2006, Section 5 requires nine states (mostly in the deep South) and parts of seven others to get "preclearance" from the U.S. Justice Department or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before any election procedures can be altered. Any change--as small as moving a polling location across the street or as large as redrawing an entire congressional district--must be preapproved by the federal government. This preclearance provision is unmatched in our nation's system of federalism.

With this case, the Court will be asked whether cities, school districts, and--in the case of the appellant--utility districts are allowed to use Section 5's "bail out" provision to be released from federal oversight. If not, the Court will face an even larger question: did Congress find enough evidence of gamesmanship directed against minority voters to justify reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, or did it overstep its authority? At this panel discussion, scholars and attorneys representing each side will discuss the legal and political issues the case raises. AEI visiting fellow Edward Blum will moderate.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Edward
Blum

What's new on AEI

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.