US Supreme Court Voting Rights Case and its impact on Florida

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder beginning today. The issue according to the SCOTUS Blog is, “Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

The ruling on this case will impact as many as five Florida Counties. According to Larry Kahn of, “Section 5 covers Monroe and four other Florida counties, as well as some local jurisdictions in California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota. It also covers all of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Virginia.”

Kahn reports, “Last year, then-Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer battled Gov. Rick Scott on the national stage over how many early-voting days should be allowed in the November election. Scott ultimately won — eight days instead of Sawyer’s preferred 14 — but that battle and more will be heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Kahn notes, “‘Last year we got an umbrella from Section 5 because it helped Mr. Sawyer fight and the voters were heard from,’ said Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin. ‘If we weren’t under Section 5, they wouldn’t have been heard from’.”

Mr. Sawyer wanted to use Section 5 of the voting rights act to bypass the governor and state of Florida.

In the column, “Voting Rights at the Supreme Court Today“, Amy Payne reports:

The Voting Rights Act provides “broad and powerful protection against discrimination,”explains Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, a former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s take on Section 5, the Voting Rights Act remains in effect to protect all Americans from voter discrimination.

But Section 5 outlived its purpose decades ago—and the federal government is still forcing some voting jurisdictions to justify all of their local rule changes. Von Spakovsky points out:

[Section 5] effectively presumes that all voting-related actions by certain states and jurisdictions are discriminatory and therefore requires that they obtain pre-approval from the federal government for otherwise ordinary and routine actions, such as moving a polling station from a school that is under renovation to another one down the street or drawing new redistricting plans. This is a major and unusual imposition on state sovereignty.

What was originally intended to safeguard individual liberty has become a way for the feds to attack state liberty. For the Department of Justice and many activists, Section 5 merely exists to bully local authorities.

Von Spakovsky says that if Section 5 were struck down, “The only change would be to curb the abuses of federal bureaucrats and check the power and influence of the liberal activist groups that rely on Section 5 to enforce their agendas.”

Watch this Heritage Foundation video to understand what the arguments on Section 5 are: