By The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal:
For residents of Southern states, one of the most-watched U.S. Supreme Court rulings will be in the next few months, when the justices consider whether it is time to relax the Voting Rights Act laws, originally passed in the 1960s to deal a death blow to racial discrimination in politics.
There is little doubt the Voting Rights Act, aided by the passage of time and the return to sanity of Southern politicians, has had the intended effect. Across the South, black political access is greater than it has ever been — both in the right to vote and in the number of black candidates running for office and winning elections.
The question is whether this access would continue without strict oversight at the federal level.
Inflexible sides are already forming.
The director of the non-profit Project on Fair Representation, which is paying for the legal challenges to the Voting Rights Act as well as one on affirmative action, correctly notes that America has changed greatly since the 1965 enactment of the voting legislation. In his view, the law is stuck “in a Jim Crow time warp.”
The acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, meanwhile, says voter ID laws are no more than a clever update of old tricks to keep blacks from voting, and that a federal court has ruled that a Texas redistricting plan discriminated against Hispanics.
The court, which often has a five-member conservative majority, may well rule that the Voting Rights Act has served its purpose, and that there is no need for Southern states and parts of a few others to get Justice Department approval for any electoral changes, ranging from redistricting to annexation and even the relocation of polling places.
Complicating matters for the conservative-liberal divide is that in 2006 President Bush, with strong support from a Republican-led Congress, signed a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act. Now Republicans, who are on the short end of the balance of power, are likely to support dropping the requirement for federal approval.
Hopefully the Supreme Court will figure out a way, or at least instruct Congress to do it, to give individual states, counties and cities the opportunity to show that there are no barriers to voting or to minority political representation. It’s probable that some states have a better track record in this regard than others. Those who have treated all voters fairly should be recognized for these efforts. ...
By The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal:
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