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Heritage: Voting Rights Act

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Heritage: Voting Rights Act
February 22, 2013 2:00 pm
February 22, 2013 3:15 pm
Heritage Foundation
February 19, 2013
Heritage Foundation HQ
214 Massachusetts Ave, NE, Washington, DC, DC, 20002, United States

On February 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral
argument on the continued constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA),
which the Court questioned in 2009. Section 5 is the “emergency” provision of the VRA
that requires certain states and counties to get pre-approval from the federal government
before any changes in their voting laws or procedures can be effective, including better
voter ID requirements. Section 5 was supposed to terminate in 1970. Yet it has been
renewed four times and is now not scheduled to expire until 2031. States that must
comply are determined by registration and turnout in elections that occurred more than 40
years ago. For example, despite the constitutional principle that all states have “equal
dignity,” Alaska has been under the federal government’s receivership on election
changes for most of its statehood.Is Section 5 still needed to enforce the VRA or are
Sections 2 and 3 (as well as the rest of the VRA and the 14th and 15th Amendments) now
enough? Are the extraordinary circumstances that existed in 1965 that justified such an
intrusion into state sovereignty then still present today? Did Congress aggravate the
constitutional problems with Section 5 when it altered the legal standard for preclearance
in 2006? Has Section 5 resulted in the creation of racially gerrymandered/segregated
voting districts? How will the government defend Section 5 on February 27 and what
arguments will Shelby County make to try to convince the justices to overturn the law?
Join us as our panel of experts discusses these issues. To learn more and RSVP, please

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