Feb 28 2013

Supreme Court Debates Necessity of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

Feature Stories | Published 28 Feb 2013, 10:48 am | Comments Off on Supreme Court Debates Necessity of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act -

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Listen to Thom Hartmann discuss the recent challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act with Shane Farnan, Supreme Court reporter for Talk Radio News Service.

HARTMANN: The case that we’re talking about is the Voting Rights Act.

FARNAN: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 which has been reauthorized a few times by Congress through the years and most recently in 2006. Shelby County Alabama has sued saying that it’s unconstitutional. So the Supreme Court took that up again.

HARTMANN: And the basis of the argument that Shelby County is making?

FARNAN: The basis of their argument is that things are different now. The South has changed. It’s no longer necessary to treat certain States differently than the other States and so the Voting Rights Act, at least Section 5, is no longer necessary. Section 5 says that certain States, because they’ve had such a long history of discrimination, if they are going to change their voting rules they need to get clearance from the Federal Government. A lot of the States don’t like this. So Shelby County sued to have it stopped.

HARTMANN: And the argument that is being made, at least that I’ve heard on right wing talk radio, is ‘Hey you’ve got districts that are all black, you’ve got elected officials who are African Americans, you’ve got voting officials who are African Americans, you’ve got judges who are African Americans. How can you say that there is still discrimination going on in these areas?’

FARNAN: Well, Congress did a very in depth review of this. And that’s what Congress’ job is. And a lot of the argument before the court went this way. There was an argument before the Court but there was also an argument among the members of the Court, essentially saying this is Congress’ job this is not the Supreme Court’s job. They went through thousands and thousands of pages of documents and dozens of witnesses and hours of testimony.

HARTMANN: Congress did?

FARNAN: Congress did in order to reauthorize this Act in 2006.

HARTMANN: In other words, the Conservative talk show or Fox News talking points are nonsense. I mean there may be areas where you’ve got a lot of African American voters and African American elected officials but that does not mean there is not racism that is playing itself out in the polls.

FARNAN: We saw that in the last election specifically. There were long voting lines in Black areas. There was the president of the GOP in Florida who admitted that some of the rules they were trying to enact was specifically to disenfranchise Black voters down in Florida.

HARTMANN: This was their strategy.

Listen to the rest of the interview with Shane Farnan and Thom Hartmann.

Thom’s Guest: Shane Farnan, Associate Producer of the Thom Hartmann show. Farnan is also the Supreme Court reporter for the Talk Radio News Service.


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