Why the Supreme Court May Rule Against the Voting Rights Act

ProPublica's Suevon Lee explains why the decision in the Shelby County v. Holder case, which the Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday, could be "one of the most significant rulings of the current term."

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ProPublica's Suevon Lee explains why the decision in the Shelby County v. Holder case, which the Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday, could be "one of the most significant rulings of the current term."

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The cornerstone provision is known as Section 5, which requires some states and localities to get federal clearance before making any changes to their voting laws.

What is the Voting Rights Act? And why does it matter? Here's a quick guide to what could be, as the influential SCOTUSBlog put it, "one of the most significant rulings of the current term."

What's Section 5 again?

As we've explained before, Section 5 requires nine mostly Southern states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, Virginia, Texas and Arizona -- and areas of seven others to preclear any change to a voting law or procedure with the federal government ...

Section 5, which was enacted by the original Voting Rights Act, was meant to address the systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans by state lawmakers in the South since the end of Reconstruction.

Under the provision, covered jurisdictions must prove that any proposed voting change doesn't have a discriminatory purpose or effect or would diminish minorities' ability to elect a favored candidate.

Read Suevon Lee's entire piece at ProPublica.

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