The Shelby County Case

The Curmudgeons have been discussing the Shelby County case seeking to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  This, so far, has been an email discussion.  Those supporting Shelby County’s position are arguing that it is about racial gerrymandering and that it has caused districts to be drawn along racial lines (true) and that is somehow detrimental to the interests of the Democratic Party.  This is my latest response.


Gerrymandering is not explicit in the 1965 bill.

Section 2 says

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.


This is a prohibition on using electoral districting for the purpose of restricting voting rights on a racial basis.  Anyone against that?  Get your white hood dry-cleaned.  The accusation is made that this law has been used to create districts to favor racial groups.  I do not favor racism in any form including such an action.  However there is a history of this law which reflects restriction on such uses for this law.


(From a Wikipedia article on the VRA)  Section 2 contains a general prohibition on voting discrimination, enforced through federal district court litigation. Congress amended this section in 1982, prohibiting any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result. The 1982 amendment provided that proof of intentional discrimination is not required. The provision focused instead on whether the electoral processes are equally accessible to minority voters. This section is permanent and does not require renewal.

The article is at


In any case the Shelby County case is not about section 2, but about Section 5.  This part opens as follows.

SEC. 5. Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 4(a) are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: