The fate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 now rests in the hands of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, including one who openly expressed contempt for the law.
Oral arguments in the Shelby County v. Holder case concluded as what was best described as a “tense and sometimes fractious” process. At issue is a provision in the law, known as Section 5, which requires certain states, mainly those with a history of racial discrimination, receive federal approval before making changes to voting laws and procedures. Conservative supporters argue the provision is no longer necessary and want it removed. In fact, during oral arguments conservative justice Antonin Scalia described Congress’ unanimous decision to reauthorize the law in 2006 as the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” for minority voters.
Civil and labor rights groups call this newest attempt to erode voting rights a concerted effort by Republicans at the state level to suppress the vote of African-Americans and other Democratic-minded demographic groups. Hundreds from around the country traveled to DC to rally outside the Supreme Court steps.
Liberal justices like Justice Sonia Sotomayor strongly defended the law, saying “Discrimination is discrimination.”
“The disease is still there … it’s gotten a lot better, a lot better, but it’s still there,” said Justice Stephen Breyer.
The high court is expected to make a final ruling by the end of June.