Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

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In 1965, at a time of racial discrimination in America and the emergence of a strong Civil Rights Movement, congress enacted the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which prohibits discrimination in voting. Congress could not end racial discrimination in voting by suing one jurisdiction, state, etc. at a time. Rather, Congress passed Section 5 of the VRA, which required states and local governments with a history of racially discriminating voting practices to get the approval of the U.S. Attorney General or a three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for D.C. (“preclearace”) in order to make any changes to their voting practices. Section 4(b) said that the preclearance requirement applied to states and political subdivisions that used a “test or…show more content…
The defendant argued that Congress found substantial evidence of racial discrimination in voting in the jurisdictions that are covered and that even if voting dilution does not violate the 15th Amendment, it does violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and therefore Congress can protect against vote dilution. Next, the plaintiff argued that the ruling in the D.C. Circuit, which would allow Congress to determine for itself the constitutional significance of the evidence, threatened to remove the limitation that Congress may enforce but not interpret the 14th and 15th Amendments and that the D.C. Circuit used to absence of discrimination to prove that the preclearance requirement is effective and still necessary. On this issue, the defendant argued that Congress correctly determined that Section 5 continues to ward off discrimination in voting that would violate the Constitution. Third, the plaintiff argued that even if preclearance is justified, the coverage formula is not rational since it is based on decades old data and also because the factors that are considered are “first generation” ballot access issues, while the Voting Rights Act is meant to defeat “second-generation problems” such as vote dilution. The defendant argued that Congress determined which jurisdictions should be covered and then engineered a formula that would cover those specific jurisdictions, so the formula is still relevant because it specifies the areas which Congress
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