What did the Supreme Court just do to the Voting Rights Act?

Posted June 25th, 2013 by
Category: Living consequences Tags: , ,

In 2006, the U.S. Congress voted 98-0 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another quarter-century.

This re-authorization included Section 5, which requires certain states (or parts of states)  to seek federal approval, in advance, for any changes to their voting procedures (known as “preclearance”). It also included Section 4, which provides the “coverage formula” defining which states (or parts of states) are subject to preclearance, based upon their historic use of voting procedures to discriminate against black voters.

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the coverage formula is no longer unconstitutional constitutional. The majority opinion found that the formula was justified in 1966, by the “‘blight of racial discrimination in voting’ that had ‘infected the electoral process in parts of our country for nearly a century.'” Today, however, a majority of the justices agreed that “Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.”

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What does the Court’s decision on affirmative action mean?

Posted June 24th, 2013 by
Category: Living consequences Tags: , ,

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally issued its ruling in this year’s affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, voting 7-1 to send the case back to the Court of Appeals for further review.

The Court’s decision upholds, at least for now, the use of race as a factor in admissions, while applying a more skeptical analysis than the lone dissenting justice, Justice Ginsburg, believes is appropriate. (Justice Kagan recused herself and took no part in the case.)

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy and supported by the other six justices, holds that the Fifth Circuit failed to properly ask whether the university’s use of race in its admissions policy meets the standard of “strict scrutiny,” the especially demanding standard which applies to the use of race in governmental actions.

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