The 1965 Voting Rights Act appears in trouble with a majority on the Supreme Court


Here is roundup of what various news organizations are reporting this morning following Wednesday’s hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court which heard lawyers for Shelby County argue that the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act is no longer needed.

The consensus of those watching and listening Wednesday is that the act, or at least its most important part, is in trouble with a majority of the justices who appear likely to strike down the act or its key provisions.

It should be noted that was the same conclusion following oral arguments last year over the health care overhaul passed by Congress in 2010, so called Obamacare. The court upheld the law to the surprise of most who had watched arguments in that case.

The New York Times writes that the skeptical questions asked by four of the court’s most conservative members indicate that a key part of the law may be in peril. Questions from the courts more liberal members indicated they continue to see a need for the law.

Justice Clearance Thomas, who usually sides with the court’s more conservative justices, did not ask any questions Wednesday which is typical for him. Four years ago he was the loan justice to vote to strike the law.

The Associated Press noted that the court’s conservative and liberal justices engaged in a sometimes tense back-and-forth during the 70-minute hearing with conservatives seemingly leaning against a key provision of the law and liberals leaning toward keeping the law in effect.

In an ominous note for supporters of the law, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has often been the crucial fifth vote on cases that have divided the court, indicated he may be leaning on the side of striking the law. After acknowledging the important role the law played in fighting discrimination, Kennedy noted that other important laws in history ran their course. “Times change,” said Kennedy.

The Los Angeles Times described that Supreme Court justices divided sharply along ideological lines with conservative justices pushing toward striking down a key part of the law.

The Charlotte Observer noted that hanging on the outcome of the case from Shelby County could be a new chapter in the nation’s divided racial history with repercussions from the decision being felt across the country.

The Dallas Morning News summed up Wednesday’s hearing this way: The fate of a landmark civil rights law that has ensured the right to vote to millions of people in Texas and other states is now in the hands of a deeply divided Supreme Court.

The Guardian newspaper of London summed up the hearing this way: The United States Supreme Court appears to be leaning toward striking down cornerstone civil rights legislation that has protected African Americans’ right to vote for half a century during a combative hearing on Wednesday.

original article:
By Charles J. Dean |
on February 28, 2013 at 6:53 AM, updated February 28, 2013 at 6:54 AM