Voting Rights Debate: Key Questions from Oral Arguments in Shelby County v. Holder

March 12, 2013

In February of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case considering the constitutionality of the preclearance and coverage provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  A few questions asked by the Justices may determine the Court's decision, which is expected by June.  This panel featured a spirited debate over these key questions by top voting rights experts:

  1. Does the coverage formula violate an equal footing doctrine?  Can Congress constitutionally “reverse engineer” a coverage formula to cover particular states?
    • Can lawsuits effectively replace preclearance?
      • Is preclearance a "racial entitlement”?
        • Is Shelby County a proper plaintiff in light of Alabama’s record?  Is a facial challenge appropriate?  

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        Panelists for Petitioners Shelby County:
        Challenging provisions of the Voting Rights Act

        Panelists for Respondents
        Defending provisions of the Voting Rights Act

        • J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director and Director of Litigation, Campaign Legal Center
          • Dara Lindenbaum, Associate Counsel, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


            Spencer A. Overton, Professor of Law, Director of Political Law Studies Initiative, George Washington University Law School

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