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Civil Rights and Race Relations in America and Their Impact on the Lives of African Americans
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2/02/11Related Case or Issue:
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Presents Oral Argument in Defense of Section 5 of the VRA
(New York, NY) – Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) presented oral argument in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case challenging a core provision of the Voting Rights Act known as Section 5. The provision requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to have voting changes reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ensure that they are nondiscriminatory.
WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Wednesday questioned whether a key component of the landmark Voting Rights Act is outdated, expressing skepticism about using evidence of racial discrimination from 40 or 50 years ago to justify continued election monitoring for a group of mostly Southern states.
"We're now looking at a situation where that information is at least 45 years out of date, and by the time the 2006 extension of the Voting Rights Act runs its course it will be 70 years," he said. "That wouldn't seem to be a current coverage formula, would it?"
There are legal and practical merits on both sides of the issue. Nozzolio pointed to a section of New York's Constitution that says the census data "shall be controlling" for redistricting purposes.
For black residents and their lawyers, diluting the strength of any one black voter is problematic.
"If there has been a discriminatory voting change, it is not absolved because there have been ten or one hundred non-discriminatory changes; the act of discrimination is still odious," wrote lawyers for the defendants who intervened in the case, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Fifteen years ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit flouted Supreme Court law when it struck down affirmative action at the University of Texas Law School. Last week, in an act of redemption, the appellate court upheld an admissions plan for undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin that takes race into account to encourage diversity. The plan was adopted after the Supreme Court again approved affirmative action in higher education in 2003.