Voting rights still uncertain
The notion that America has resolved discrimination at the polls is laughable, yet the Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that could eliminate the principal protection for millions of voters.
In a case from Alabama, plaintiffs seek an end to the protections under the Voting Rights Act. The 2012 presidential election, however, demonstrated why the law remains essential.
Part of the law requires states with histories of discriminatory voting laws to obtain Justice Department approval before implementing any major changes. Just last year, the DOJ rejected Texas' effort to implement a voter identification law and Florida's effort to eliminate early voting, which likely would have disenfranchised many poor minority voters.
The 15th Amendment, ratifiedin 1870, ensures the vote for all citizens. Its Section 2 states: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
That would be the Voting Rights Act. Congress passed it in 1965, extended it for 25 years in 1982 and for another 25 years in 2006. Less than seven years ago, Congress compiled a vast record of voting rights abuses and voted overwhelmingly - 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate, to extend the act to 2032.
Since 2006, there have multiple efforts to restrict the franchise. The Supreme Court should accept Congress' judgment and keep the law in place to ensure that the 15th Amendment remains more than mere words.