The U.S. Supreme Court will get to hear just how much things have changed in the South during argument on Feb.27 in Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
That’s the section requiring certain states and jurisdictions — including 40 counties in N.C. — to get U.S. Department of Justice preclearance of changes to voting practices.
(As previously reported here, a case out of N.C., Nix v. Holder, had also been pending for certiorari by the Court, but was dismissed as moot on the grounds that the Justice Department had withdrawn its objections to the Kinston N.C. voting changes at issue there.)
If the views expressed by Chief Justice John Roberts four years ago — when the Court last considered the issue in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder — are telling, the Court heads into the argument predisposed to dispensing with Section 5 as outdated. The court in that case did not expressly rule on the viability of Section 5, finding instead on narrow grounds that the Austin, Tex. district challenging the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered. But Roberts nonetheless expressed his skepticism about the continued need for Section 5: Read more