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U.S. District Court in Alabama Makes Rare Use of Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act

The most obscure part of the federal Voting Rights Act is Section 3, which says that if a jurisdiction persistently demonstrates a disregard of voting rights for ethnic and racial minorities, it is subject to pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department. This section applies to the entire nation, but has almost never been used, because between 1965 and 2013, such jurisdictions were virtually always also required to obtain pre-clearance under Section 5.

On January 13, 2014, a U.S. District Court in Alabama used Section 3 to require the city of Evergreen to obtain approval from the Justice Department, if it makes changes to the voting rolls and also if it makes redistricting changes in its city council elections. The city had been placed under Section 5 in 2012. But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made enforcement of Section 5 impossible, because the Court invalidated Section 4, which is linked to Section 5 and contains the formula to determine which parts of the nation are under Section 5.

The decision is Allen v City of Evergreen, southern district, 13-0107. Here is a newspaper story about the case.

2 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    One difference between Section 3 and Section 4, is that Section 3 provides for limitations on specific actions. Evergreen has already conducted an election under a court-ordered redistricting plan, and complied with a requirement that they use the Conecuh County voting rolls, rather than one based on municipal water customers. So Evergreen is simply limited to using the current map for the rest of the decade.

    It is likely that if they had attempted to change the map, they would have run into am injunction, so the new order has no practical effect other than creating a post-Shelby County precedent for use of Section 3.

    Evergreen had apparently (allegedly) attempted to implement a redistricting plan in 2012 without receiving pre-clearance from the USDOJ. That was the genesis of this case.

    A delayed election under a court-ordered plan was held in June 2013.

    The newspaper article is a bit misleading when it notes that: “Councilman John Skinner, who is white, won re-election against three opponents in a district that had become majority black.” A reader might infer that a split of the vote among black candidates results in a plurality victory for Skinner. But Evergreen requires majority election and Skinner received 51.5% of the vote. Further, one of his three opponents was white.

  2. Demo Rep

    Good luck in finding ONE word about any pre-clearance stuff in the debates about the 15th Amdt in Jan-Feb 1869.

    i.e. one more giant PERVERSION of the Const.

    i.e. the NO stuff in 15th Amdt, Sec. 1 was/is meant to be enforced in the courts by standard civil and/or criminal cases — just like all of the NO stuff in the original 1787 Const.

    The Congress can get really DRASTIC in enforcing the 13-14-15 Amdts – i.e. bankrupt the govts involved, bankrupt the Fed/State/local officers involved, 1000 years in jail, etc.

    Much too difficult for the New Age *politically correct* SCOTUS MORONS to understand since 1870.

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