WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court announced today its intention to once again review Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acts, a case that may see the justices finally embracing voter suppression as a constitutional right.
Passed in 1965, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires historically discriminatory states to seek the approval of the Justice Department before changing state voting rules. These states are predominantly located in the South, which has, of course, since emerged as an apparent bastion of civil liberties and equality. The constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act has therefore been repeatedly brought into question, with many southerners regarding Section 5 as a major contributor to the crippling oppression faced by white voters nationwide, inasmuch as it ensures basic civil rights for nonwhites, as well.
While the need for such a law during the climax of the civil rights movement needs no explanation, Section 5 has been invoked as recently as in the 2012 election cycle to block last-minute voter-ID laws, including a recent Pennsylvania law that would require voters to complete an byzantine scavenger hunt before entering the booth. It has also been used to prohibit exclusive early-voting periods in districts dominated by one party.
When the Supreme Court last considered repealing Section 5 in 2009, eight of the nine justices concluded that America’s long and sordid history of discrimination could not be eradicated in 40 years. However, much has changed in the past three years, including the re-election of America’s first African-American president, which irrefutably represents the end of racism forever.