With all the talk over the individual mandate and health-care reform, oral argument in Shelby County v. Holder yesterday in D.C. federal court got little attention. The Alabama county of Shelby is challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires designated local and state governments to get approval from the Department of Justice or courts before changing any voting laws or procedures.
In this case, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund demonstrated the persistent racism by showcasing the redistricting effort by the city of Calera, Alabama, in the county bringing the suit. A few years ago, the city eliminated its majority-black city-council district, and thus its only African American city councilman. The DOJ voided the election and ordered a second redistricting which revived the majority-black district and their representative, prompting the challenge. Of course, you need only go back a few days to see voter suppression tactics at work across the country. Texas, North and South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and a few other states are pushing voter-ID laws that, as the Prospect reported earlier this month, disenfranchise poor and minority voters.