ACRU cheers U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of outmoded sections of the Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2013) — With the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in Shelby County v. Holder, the way is cleared for more states to adopt laws requiring photo IDs and other measures that ensure election integrity, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) said today.

“The barriers erected by the Obama Administration that blocked perfectly good voter ID laws are now effectively struck down,” said Susan A. Carleson, the ACRU’s chairman and CEO.

J. Christian Adams, ACRU policy board member, noted that the ruling means that “federal preclearance of state election procedures seems to be forever dead and buried. While some congressional Republicans had vowed to enact new legislation to ‘fix’ any coverage formula deemed unconstitutional, the opinion today offers almost no room to do so.”

The Court found that the 40-year-old formulas in Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act used to determine which states and other jurisdictions fell under the Section 5 scrutiny of the U.S. Justice Department or a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C. are no longer relevant. This essentially guts the enforcement ability of Section 5.

“This decision restores the original post-15th Amendment balance to the Constitution,” Adams said. “The opinion quoted the Tenth Amendment, and the Supreme Court asserted the core function of our federal system — to preserve liberty.”

In 2012, the Justice Department, citing Section 5, struck down newly enacted voter photo ID laws in South Carolina and Texas despite the Supreme Court’s upholding a similar law in Indiana in 2008.

“Foes of votefraud reform will no longer be able to hide behind obsolete portions of the Voting Rights Act,” Carleson said. “This is good news for every voter who counts on his or her vote not being cancelled by vote fraud.”

The ACRU recently filed suit against two Mississippi counties — Jefferson Davis and Walthall — which have more registered voters than people of voting age eligibility.

The ACRU “is doing the job that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder won’t do,” Adams said.