You know what the people who want to get rid of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act are saying: They claim it’s a relic from an era when America had just ended legal apartheid. We’re past those bad old days, they say.
But the fact that you can’t put a “whites only” sign on a water fountain or impose a poll tax doesn’t mean racism is a thing of the past.
|President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act |
as Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders look on
LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto
A county in Texas wanted to move its polling place from a school to a private club – a club that had a history of segregation. But Texas is covered by the Voting Rights Act. Under Section 5 of the act, the county had to get advance approval, known as “pre-clearance,” from either the Justice Department or a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
It never got that far. As soon as the Justice Department asked for more information – the equivalent of raising a governmental eyebrow - the county withdrew the request.
It is Section 5 that now is under challenge, in a case to be heard by the Supreme Court during the current term.
"Section 5 continues to be necessary, and Section 5 is not over inclusive," Perez said. "And that is why we will continue to vigorously defend Section 5 in the Supreme Court."