The Conversation

Former DOJ Voting Rights Atty: SCOTUS' Ariz. Decision a 'Nothing Burger'

J. Christian Adams, an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, is calling the Supreme Court's Arizona decision a "nothing burger." :

The Supreme Court decision today means almost nothing.  The court ruled that Arizona could not require proof of citizenship when voters registered to vote using the federal form promulgated by the Election Assistance Commission.

Big deal. Arizona is still free to use the state form and require proof of citizenship.  They can hand out state forms and keep the federal forms in a dusty box in the back.

Adams says the case has "nothing to do with voter ID" and that Americans should be watching the SCOTUS decision for  Shelby v. Holder, "a challenge to the constitutionality of a provision historically at the center of the federal government’s efforts to eliminate racial discrimination in voting," writes SCOTUS blog, that will be released next week. :

To understand the case, it is useful to start with a bit of background.  In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to counter efforts by states and local governments, especially in the South, to prevent blacks from voting.  Some provisions of the Act target behavior or rules relating to voting that would directly discriminate on the basis of race; the Act also abolishes other tactics – such as literacy tests – that had traditionally been used to try to keep African Americans from voting.

Another provision of the Act, Section 5, was intended to prevent discrimination against African-American voters through more subtle means:  it prohibits specified jurisdictions – selected because they have a history of discrimination – from changing their election procedures unless and until they receive permission from either a special three-judge panel of a federal district court in Washington, D.C., or the Department of Justice – a provision known as the “preclearance” requirement.


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