Policy Round Up: Voting Rights Act

Written by

Moriah Ray
Moriah Ray Moriah Ray is an editorial assistant with GlobalPolicy.tv. She is a Government and Politics major with a minor in international development and conflict management at the University of Maryland College Park where she is a rising Junior. She is passionate about international affairs. Moriah also has a strong interest in human rights advocacy and using public policy to encourage equality.

The Supreme Court struck down a fundamental civil rights section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this past Tuesday, June 25. Section 4 determines which states must gain federal permission before they alter any of their voting laws. It was specifically created to protect the voting right’s of African- Americans in the South. The passing of the Voting Rights Act was a monumental civil rights victory for African Americans, especially for civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., who worked tirelessly to ensure the laws passing.


Therefore the recent ruling, a 5-4 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts, has caused much controversy, disappointment, and confusion. Many see the ruling as a major step backwards when it comes to ensuring equality for minorities.

Chief Justice John Roberts stated on behalf of the majority; “The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterizes voting in the covered jurisdictions,” On the other hand President Obama stated that he was “deeply disappointed” by the recent ruling.

Greg Palast discusses the influential affect getting rid of Section 4 will have on minority voters

“When I say “millions” of voters of color will lose their ballots, I’m not kidding. Let’s add it up.

Last year, the GOP Secretary of State of Florida Ken Detzner tried to purge 180,000 Americans, mostly Hispanic Democrats, from the voter rolls. He was attempting to break Katherine Harris’ record. Detzner claimed that all these brown folk were illegal “aliens.”

But Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act requires that 16 states with a bad history of blocking black and brown voters must “pre-clear” with the US Justice Department any messing around with voter rolls or voting rules. And so Section 4 stopped Detzner from the racist brown-out.”

Read the full article in TruthOut.

Rick Ungar predicts a grim future for Section 4, as long as the GOP is the majority in Congress

“While today’s decision does leave the door open for Congress to take on the issue and re-craft Section 4 with an eye to current data, does anyone actually believe that this will happen with the GOP in control of the House of Representatives?”

Read the full article in Forbes.

Meteor Blades explores how getting rid of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act will influence all people of color with a focus on Native Americans

“Discussion so far of the Supreme Court’s heinous ruling on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, with its sneaky means of yanking the teeth out of Section 5,  understandably has focused mostly on the impact on African Americans. It should not be forgotten, however, that other people of color are covered, too, including American Indians.”

Read the full article in Daily KOS.

USA Today’s Editorial Board evaluates both sides of the recent Supreme Court ruling

“The law still works. In fact, it has served to block numerous discriminatory voting restrictions just since Congress last reauthorized it in 2006.”

“This was a good decision because, as the court carefully explained, “the formula is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices.” Such a formula cannot justify treating some jurisdictions differently from others…”

Read the full article in USA Today.

Shereen Marisol Meraji discusses what  a 2013 Voting Rights Act (Section 4) Would Look Like

“Let’s set aside, for a quick second, the fact that it seems like Congress is having a hard time agreeing on much of anything these days. Voter discrimination doesn’t come in the form of literacy tests anymore. So how would a modern formula determine places that are prone to voter discrimination? If Congress did do something, what might that something look like?”

Read the full article in Code Switch