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Justices May Strike Down Part Of Voting Rights Act

Publication Date: 
June 12, 2009
National Public Radio - All Things Considered
Ari Shapiro

Professor Pamela S. Karlan talked to NPR's All Things Considered about possible outcomes should the Supreme Court strike down significant parts of the Voting Rights Act:

...When the Supreme Court strikes down a significant law, the Justice Department often comes back with a proposed change that would address the court's concerns. Sources say civil rights is such an important part of this administration's agenda that the Justice Department does not want to wait weeks or months to respond to a decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.

That's why lawyers at the Justice Department are playing a complicated game of chess right now, trying to forecast the Supreme Court's potential moves so the department has responses ready.

...No one knows exactly what the Supreme Court will say. The court could rule that there is a problem with one narrow part of the Voting Rights Act, and the administration could come back with a small tweak to the law. Or the court could go much bigger. So could the administration.

"You could imagine, for example, the administration saying, 'OK, we now have an opportunity to rethink from the ground up what's the best way of ensuring that every American who wants to cast a vote is able to do so,' " says Stanford Law professor Pam Karlan. "They might revisit a whole host of issues that simply weren't on the table when Congress reauthorized the existing voting rights act in 2006."