December 2, 2023

The Supreme Court May Be Poised to Kill the Voting Rights Act Once and for All

A federal court said only the government, not civil rights groups or individuals, can enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act, which Congress passed to enforce the 15th Amendment, has been targeted by the right wing since it was enacted in 1965. In the last few years, the Supreme Court has weakened the Voting Rights Act but has never ruled that civil rights organizations and aggrieved individuals could not sue to enforce its provisions.

On November 20, 2023, a panel of the Eighth United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled two-to-one in a racial gerrymandering case that only the Department of Justice (DOJ) can file lawsuits to vindicate voting rights under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In Arkansas NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment, the appellate panel dismissed a lawsuit filed by Black Arkansas voters who claimed that the state’s congressional map would illegally “undermine the voting strength of Black Arkansans.”

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books by marjorie cohn
Drones and Targeted Killing The United States and Torture Rules of Disengagement Cowboy Republic: 6 Ways the Bush Gang Defied the Law Cameras in the Courtroom

about marjorie cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio. Learn more about Marjorie >>