POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 4:50pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 7:25pm
Today’s Supreme Court decision on the voting rights act was historic.
Many call it the most important civil rights law of them all.
But today, a 5-4 ruling by the Court says, times have changed.
It might be instructive to remember what it was like 50 years ago to vote in the south if you were black. Some states imposed literacy tests on voters. Others charged a fee called a Poll Tax for the right to vote.
Until the Civil War, property ownership was required, and some think it still should be.
In response to the 14th and 15th amendments which were designed to insure black voting rights, so-called “Black Codes” and other tactics were established to counter them, particularly in the south.
In 1964, a combination of the 24th Amendment and the Voting rights act, ended all that and placed 9 states, mostly in the south, under so-called pre-clearance mandates. That meant any change to voting law, or voting districts must be pre-cleared by the Justice Department.
The list was based on practices in effect in those states in 1960, and is included in Section 4 of the law. Section 4 was today declared unconstitutional.
The court effectively discarded that list as being based on antiquated information, and said essentially, any pre-clearance requirement should be based on more up to date evidence of discrimination.
The Court left open the possibility that new evidence of voter discrimination could be compiled, but experts say that was tough enough back in 1965.
Modern politics would make it nearly impossible.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority decision, and Justice Ginsburg wrote and presented the dissenting view.