Hocus Scotus: News from the Supremes

Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. This is the formula used to determine which states and localities need preclearance before changing their voting laws.

Watch the video of Mrs. Hamer addressing the Democratic National Convention in 1964 on voting rights, before she was cut off by an “emergency press conference” from President Johnson’s White House aimed at getting her off national television.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the court invalidated the formula — adopted most recently in 2006 — used to determine which states had to get federal approval for changes in their voting laws. The law applied to sixteen jurisdictions (nine states plus parts of seven other states) and required any changes in voting laws or procedures in the covered jurisdictions to be approved in advance by the U.S. Justice Department or a federal court in Washington, D.C. A jurisdiction with a clean record for 10 years was permitted to be excused from the mandate. With this new ruling, citizens can bring their court case of voting irregularities only after the election is completed, rather than raising a flag about discriminatory laws in advance of an election.

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