The days of Bull Connor fire-hosing courageous civil rights protesters are long over. But there's still a long way to go in ensuring voting rights are upheld for all across the South, says a Los Angeles Times editorial.
So the Supreme Court should keep in place the rule requiring that states with a history of denying minorities the right to vote obtain the approval of a federal court or the U.S. Justice Department before changing election procedures. This "preclearance" provision, The Times notes, has been repeatedly reauthorized by Congress - most recently in 2006, when it was extended for another 25 years by margins of 390 to 33 in the House and 98 to 0 in the Senate.
"Yet this proven protection may be on constitutional life support. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case from Alabama that challenges Section 5 and the formula by which nine states, mostly in the South, and parts of seven others (including California) are required to obtain preclearance when they redraw district lines, modify registration procedures or change any other practice that might disadvantage minority voters."
Striking down the pre-clearance provision "would be a mistake of historic proportions," says The Times editorial. "It may no longer be true that African Americans registering to vote are required to face down hostile election officials or endure literacy tests, or that city councils and legislatures in the South are all-white and determined to remain so. But subtler forms of discrimination against blacks and other minorities persist - such as gerrymandering to dilute their voting power or relocating polling stations to make them less accessible to minorities - and Congress has reasonably determined that they are more of a problem in some places than in others. The court should respect that judgment."
Via The Los Angeles Times.