Event Title

Option II: Section 5 in a Colorblind Era: Constitutional Challenges Posed by the Contemporary Racial Order

Location

Goldberg Room

Start Date

4-3-2013 9:45 AM

End Date

4-3-2013 11:00 AM

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Description

Section 5 of the VRA seeks to prevent racially discriminatory voting practices by requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to acquire “preclearance” from the government prior to changing their laws. The legislation was enacted in an environment of overt and widespread racial discrimination, and this environment provided constitutional justification for the stringent burden it imposed upon impacted jurisdictions. In the decades since the passage of the VRA, we have witnessed a considerable diminution in racial discrimination, increased minority political participation, and the election of the nation’s first Black president. In light of these developments, many have argued that it is impossible to justify the burdens Section 5 imposes. This panel evaluated these arguments, considering whether Section 5 was likely to survive the Shelby County v. Holder constitutional challenge and arguments on which its survival may rest. Additionally, this panel considered the VRA’s coverage formula and whether it is impermissibly broad, insufficiently narrow or simply inappropriate to carry out its intended purpose and meet constitutional muster.

Moderator: Bertrall Ross, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

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Mar 4th, 9:45 AM Mar 4th, 11:00 AM

Option II: Section 5 in a Colorblind Era: Constitutional Challenges Posed by the Contemporary Racial Order

Goldberg Room

Section 5 of the VRA seeks to prevent racially discriminatory voting practices by requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to acquire “preclearance” from the government prior to changing their laws. The legislation was enacted in an environment of overt and widespread racial discrimination, and this environment provided constitutional justification for the stringent burden it imposed upon impacted jurisdictions. In the decades since the passage of the VRA, we have witnessed a considerable diminution in racial discrimination, increased minority political participation, and the election of the nation’s first Black president. In light of these developments, many have argued that it is impossible to justify the burdens Section 5 imposes. This panel evaluated these arguments, considering whether Section 5 was likely to survive the Shelby County v. Holder constitutional challenge and arguments on which its survival may rest. Additionally, this panel considered the VRA’s coverage formula and whether it is impermissibly broad, insufficiently narrow or simply inappropriate to carry out its intended purpose and meet constitutional muster.

Moderator: Bertrall Ross, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley