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2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act Upheld for Second Time
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In recent days the constitutionality of the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act was upheld for the second time, by a federal court in Washington, D.C.  

Widely regarded as a landmark in civil-rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S., according to information at Wikipedia.com. The Act outlaws the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests so they may register to vote. Additionally, the Act established significant federal oversight of elections administration, so states with a history of discriminatory voting practices would not be able to institute changes that would affect voting without first obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice; this process is known as preclearance.

  
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The case in question, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, dealt with a challenge to the “preclearance” provision of the Act.

In rejecting this challenge, the Court ruled that Congress appropriately extended the protections of the preclearance requirement in 2006 for 25 more years; the extension was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

John Payton, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel was quoted as saying in a September 21st prnewswire.com press release: “As the Court recognized, Congress’s decision to reauthorize Section 5 in 2006 was guided by its experience-based prediction about the strong medicine that was necessary to ensure equality in America’s democratic process. Today’s ruling embraces the wisdom of that prediction.”

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According to the press release, the Court was quoted as having found that, in spite of the “…effectiveness of Section 5 in deterring unconstitutional voting discrimination since 1965, Congress in 2006 found that voting discrimination by covered jurisdictions had continued into the 21st century, and that the protections of Section 5 were still needed to safeguard racial and language minority voters….[T]his Court declines to overturn Congress’s carefully considered judgment.”

Ryan Haygood, Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group was quoted as saying in the press release: “Our experience since the 2006 reauthorization has been characterized by serial efforts to declare the core of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, and widespread efforts by states covered by Section 5 to make full political participation more difficult for minority voters. It must seem strange to the average person that we face repeated attacks on the Voting Rights Act in court, even as efforts to narrow voting opportunities with all the markers of intentional discrimination proliferate and threaten to undermine our vigorous commitment to an inclusive democracy.”



The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. LDF seeks to institute structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education. The organization also works to defend the vast strides made over the last 70 years in the civil rights movement; as well, it strives to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments, according to information at the organization’s website.



 

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