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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is The Landmark Voting Rights Act Outdated?

A line of voters stand in the rain outside this Montgomery, Ala., polling place as they wait to cast their ballots in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000. (Dave Martin/AP)

A line of voters stand in the rain outside this Montgomery, Ala., polling place as they wait to cast their ballots in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000. (Dave Martin/AP)

In one of its most anticipated cases of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday takes up the question of whether to overturn key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As electoral law expert professor Richard Hasen puts it, the smart money is on the court striking down parts of the law.

It’s a case that pits the Obama administration and voting rights activists against conservatives who for years have been looking to challenge the law.

The Obama Justice Department argues that the Voting Rights Act is still needed.

The law requires places with a history of discrimination such as the Deep South to get Justice Department clearance for any voting changes, such as moving a polling place or changing voter ID requirements.

But Shelby County in Alabama argues the law is outdated because the South has changed and the Voting Rights Act unconstitutionally targets only a few states for federal monitoring.

Have things changed enough since 1965 to make parts of the Voting Rights Act unnecessary?
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