Voting Rights Act of 1965
Overview of LawThe Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
A federal appeals court struck down Texas' voter ID law on Wednesday in a victory for the Obama administration, which had taken the unusual step of bringing the weight of the U.S. Justice Department to fight new Republican-backed mandates at the ballot box. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 law carries a "discriminatory effect" and violates one of the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act — the heart of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
One federal judge has allowed a voter ID law to take effect in Wisconsin. Another is now contemplating whether to do the same in Texas. Defenders of these laws, which exist in some form in 34 states, insist that requiring people to show government-issued identification at the polls will reduce fraud—and that it will do so without imposing unfair burdens or discouraging people from voting. In North Carolina, for example, Republican Governor Pat McCrory wrote an op-ed boasting that the measures fight fraud “at no cost” to voters. It’s not surprising that McCrory and like-minded conservatives make such arguments.
One of Rep. John Lewis’ great achievements was in fusing “the civil rights movement with the anti-war movement,” said MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnnell. “John Lewis paid for progress with his own blood. He was beaten viciously by police more than once for the civil rights movement,” said O’Donnell in his Rewrite segment on Wednesday. “Police brutality was one of the cruel facts of life for civil rights marchers, which is why Martin Luther King Jr. referred to police brutality, those words, police brutality twice in his remarkable speech 50 years ago.”
Standing on the spot where 50 years earlier Martin Luther King Jr. made "I have a dream" the clarion call of the civil rights movement, a broader call for equality rang out Saturday. Thousands rallied at the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic August 28, 1963, March on Washington.
The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday over the state's voter ID law and will seek to intervene in a lawsuit over its redistricting laws that minority groups complain are discriminatory, but Texas Republicans insist are designed to protect the state's elections from fraud.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill Monday requiring photo identification at the polls and eliminating a slew of voting measures designed to protect against voter disenfranchisement. The governor, eschewing a more traditional signing ceremony, announced by way of a YouTube video that he had signed House Bill 589.
Ever since the Supreme Court gutted a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act and threw it back in Congress’s lap, lawmakers in both parties have engaged in happy talk about the prospects of patching the provision used to proactively snuff out voter discrimination against minorities in the state and local governments where it’s most prevalent.
Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department is asking a federal court in San Antonio to require federal approval for Texas voting changes.
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