Voting Rights Act
SCOTUS recently offered an opinion about the Voting Rights Act. “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance.” This requirement was applied to a collection of states, including Georgia.
The Voting Rights Act “requires that the United States Department of Justice, through an administrative procedure, or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, through a declaratory judgment action “preclear” any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting…” in any “covered jurisdiction.”
The decision has been widely denounced. Predictably, it is called racist. This feature takes the opinion that maybe the court made the correct ruling in this case. No one denies the importance of extending the vote to all qualified citizens. The question is whether the VRA is the best way to guarantee this right.
The states affected are mostly in the south. Perhaps, this oversight requirement should be extended to the entire country. Problems with restricting the vote have never been limited to the south. The expression gerrymandering was named for Elbridge Gerry, the Governor of Massachusetts.
The VRA has not stopped gerrymandering. If you look at the pictures in this post, you can see the bizarre results of district creation in Georgia. Every ten years, the congressional districts are re-drawn, subject to court approval. The courts have approved some strange districts.
Another question is just how fair the United States District Court, for the District of Columbia, is going to be. In trying to be fair to black voters, have white voters been treated unfairly? Is this really the best way to guarantee the right to vote?
The decision of the court is going to be debated. A new VRA may pass congress, hopefully with the concerns of the court taken into consideration. Black voters participate in great numbers now, and hopefully that will continue.
Pictures are from The Library of Congress.