Supreme Court Agrees to Look at Federal Powers in Voting Rights Act
The Supreme Court of the United States agreed to investigate whether Congress exceeded its authority in 2006 when it extended a vital portion of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. The appeal was filed by Shelby County, Alabama.
The justices of the Supreme Court have already heard a potential landmark case involving the constitutionality of race-based affirmative action programs at state universities. Now the high court is preparing to decide on another potential landmark case to decide the federal-state balance of power. It must rule on whether Congress has the authority in reauthorizing civil rights-era laws in accordance to the constitution.
The action came three days after President Barack Obama won re-election. It also came several months after the Justice Department used Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to block the newly passed voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina. Both states have Republican controlled legislatures. The laws are similar to the measure in Indiana that was upheld in 2008 by the Supreme Court.
The Voting Rights Act is considered as one of the government’s most effective measures to protect and promote civil rights. It is known as the crown jewel of the civil rights movement. Some local and state governments say it forces them to seek special approval from Washington under an administration that holds them accountable in 2012 for a history of discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s that have already been remedied.
Supporters of the law maintained that the United States has not yet found the solution of racial discrimination in voting and the law is still needed to stop backsliding. Opponents of the law said that it was against the balance of power between the states and the national government. They pointed at Sections 4 and 5 of the VRA as improper intrusion by the federal government into the power of local and state governments.