Voting rights - Shelby County v Holder (2013)

University / Undergraduate
Modified: 29th Nov 2023
Wordcount: 758 words
Avatar

Author

Law Expert

Disclaimer: This case brief was produced by one of our law study experts as an informational resource for law students and professionals researching case law. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNix.com.

Cite This

Keywords:

Facts

Shelby County, a state in Alabama, filed a lawsuit arguing that sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional. These sections required jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices to pre-clear any changes to their election law with the Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the district court in D.C., to ensure the changes did not have a discriminatory purpose or effect (Issacharoff, Karlan, & Pildes, 2012).

Issue

The key point of the case focuses on whether Congress' decision to reauthorize Section 5, under current conditions, goes beyond the powers conveyed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; and if Section 4(b)'s formula for determining which jurisdictions are subject to Section 5 preclearance is constitutional, rational and appropriate (Tolson, 2014).

Holding and Rule

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional, thereby making Section 5 powerless. Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, opined that the coverage formula under Section 4(b) was based on outdated data and thus was not congruent or proportional to the problem it sought to address. He noted that while the formula may have been rational and necessary at the time of its adoption, it was no longer responsive to current needs. However, the Court did not strike down the Act’s principle of pre-clearance itself (Issacharoff, Karlan, & Pildes, 2012).

Disposition

The Court did not rule Section 5 as unconstitutional but held that without a valid coverage formula, it could not be applied. In other words, the Congress still retained the power to establish a new formula for determining which jurisdictions would require pre-clearance. Until that happens, however, Section 5 is essentially inoperative (Tolson, 2014).

References

  • Issacharoff, S., Karlan, P., & Pildes, R. (2012). The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process. Foundation Press.
  • Tolson, F. (2014). Partisan Gerrymandering as a Safeguard of Federalism. Univ. of Pittsburgh Law Review, 76,1.

Facts

Shelby County, a state in Alabama, filed a lawsuit arguing that sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional. These sections required jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices to pre-clear any changes to their election law with the Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the district court in D.C., to ensure the changes did not have a discriminatory purpose or effect (Issacharoff, Karlan, & Pildes, 2012).

Issue

The key point of the case focuses on whether Congress' decision to reauthorize Section 5, under current conditions, goes beyond the powers conveyed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; and if Section 4(b)'s formula for determining which jurisdictions are subject to Section 5 preclearance is constitutional, rational and appropriate (Tolson, 2014).

Holding and Rule

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional, thereby making Section 5 powerless. Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, opined that the coverage formula under Section 4(b) was based on outdated data and thus was not congruent or proportional to the problem it sought to address. He noted that while the formula may have been rational and necessary at the time of its adoption, it was no longer responsive to current needs. However, the Court did not strike down the Act’s principle of pre-clearance itself (Issacharoff, Karlan, & Pildes, 2012).

Disposition

The Court did not rule Section 5 as unconstitutional but held that without a valid coverage formula, it could not be applied. In other words, the Congress still retained the power to establish a new formula for determining which jurisdictions would require pre-clearance. Until that happens, however, Section 5 is essentially inoperative (Tolson, 2014).

References

  • Issacharoff, S., Karlan, P., & Pildes, R. (2012). The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process. Foundation Press.
  • Tolson, F. (2014). Partisan Gerrymandering as a Safeguard of Federalism. Univ. of Pittsburgh Law Review, 76,1.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Get Academic Help Today!

Encrypted with a 256-bit secure payment provider