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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Supports Voting Rights Act Amendment

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge has dismissed constitutional claims over amendments to a section of the Voting Rights Act, "a law 'praised by some as the centerpiece of the most effective civil rights legislation ever enacted.'"

Voters and candidates for public office have filed multiple complaints against the federal government over Section 5, which creates a preclearance process to change an electoral system in jurisdictions that have historically suppressed minority voters. Under the law, electoral changes must be precleared by the U.S. attorney general.

"The preclearance process is costly and burdensome and requires unnecessary and disruptive delays," voters in Kinston, N.C., claimed in their federal complaint. "It also deprives local jurisdictions of essential attributes of self-governance."

U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissed the claim and praised Congress for crafting "a careful solution to a vitally important problem." In a 96-page ruling, he cited another federal judge's recent decision to dismiss similar claims from voters in Shelby County, Ala.

"It is perhaps startling that plaintiffs claim that Section 5, a law 'praised by some as the centerpiece of the most effective civil rights legislation ever enacted,' is actually racially discriminatory," Bates wrote.

The judge's ruling upholds the 2006 amendment to Section 5 and applauds Congress' efforts.

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