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Voting Rights Act Faces New Challenge

Publication Date: 
April 29, 2009
National Public Radio - Morning Edition
Nina Totenberg

Professor Pamela S. Karlan comments on the importance of the Voting Rights Act in an NPR segment of Morning Edition. The Act is being challenged in front of the Supreme Court today:

The provision at issue in Wednesday's case applies to specific jurisdictions where discriminatory practices were once routine. It requires them to get approval from the Justice Department before changing voting procedures. For example, if an Alabama town wants to change polling places or change an elected board to an appointed board, it has to first get permission from the Justice Department.


Voting Rights Act supporters say the law is still needed. They note, for example, that in many places with long histories of discrimination, voting is still polarized along racial lines. In Alabama and Mississippi, fewer than 11 percent of white voters supported Barack Obama.

Stanford law professor Pam Karlan says, "Saying 'Let's get rid of the Voting Rights Act' is a little bit like saying 'The doctor put some stitches in so you're not bleeding anymore, let's just rip the stitches out.'"