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South Carolina v. Katzenbach Voting Rights Act of 1965 Danny Berliant Chris Bailey Sondra Furcajg Warren Linam-Church.

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Presentation on theme: "South Carolina v. Katzenbach Voting Rights Act of 1965 Danny Berliant Chris Bailey Sondra Furcajg Warren Linam-Church."— Presentation transcript:

1 South Carolina v. Katzenbach Voting Rights Act of 1965 Danny Berliant Chris Bailey Sondra Furcajg Warren Linam-Church

2 The Historical Tension Between Disenfranchisement and the Right to Vote - Reconstruction and Enfranchisement - Official Disenfranchisement - Progressive Re-Enfranchisement

3 Reconstruction and Enfranchisement XVth Amendment 1870 Enforcement Act : 1,271 criminal prosecutions in the South under the Enforcement Act

4 1876 US Supreme Court decisions US v. Cruikshank: private interference US v. Reese: official interference A nullification of the Enforcement Act effects?

5 Power of Congress over federal elections US Supreme Court 1884, Ex Parte Yarbrough Assertion of congress’ power ▫election of federal officers ▫protect citizen’s’ right to vote in federal elections Power of Congress includes protection against private conduct Powerful tool given to Federal government for protecting voting rights

6 Post-Reconstruction Domination of south by democratic party Withdrawal of federal government from the protection of voting rights Black registered voters kept from voting: violence, fraud, corruption, Jim Crow laws Black votes diluted: gerrymandering and malapportionment Voting process made more difficult: eight box law

7 Gerrymandering

8 Official disenfranchisement 1890 Mississippi Constitutional Convention: “Mississippi solution” Mississippi Supreme Court 1896, Ratcliff v. Beale: “By reason of its previous condition of servitude (…), this race had acquired and accentuated certain peculiarities of habit, temperament, and of character (…) – a patient docile people, but careless, (…), without forethought (…)”

9 Mississippi solution Literacy and comprehension test Poll taxes Strict registration deadline Grandfather clause Property qualifications Good character requirements White primaries Black voting rate dropped: from 50% to 5% in Mississippi

10 Mississippi Solution (Continued) Congress: most Reconstruction Statutes repealed in 1894: “Let every trace of Reconstruction measures be wiped from the statute books (…)” US Supreme Court Williams v. Mississippi 1898: Federal Constitution allows states to take advantage of the “alleged characteristics of the negro race”

11 Progressive Re-Enfranchisement World War II, New Deal Increase in black discontent and pressure Change in composition of the US Supreme Court 1947 Report by President’s Civil Rights Commission : “To secure these rights”

12 Change in US Supreme Court decisions 1941, US v. Classic: primaries are an integral part of election process + extension Congress’ power over federal elections 1944, Smith v. Allwright: outlaws white primaries 1949, Davis v. Schnell: outlaws state’s new “understand and explain test”

13 Congress: 1 st Civil Rights law since Civil Rights Act: Attorney General can sue anyone who violates person’s voting rights 1960 Civil Rights Act: creates federal voting referees appointed by local federal district courts 1964 Civil Rights Act: alters state qualifications for voters in federal elections

14 Katzenbach’s Revolution: Expansion of Federal Power to Expand the Franchise - South Carolina v. Katzenbach - State Coverage Formula - Suspensions of Tests - Federal Review of New Voting Eligibility Requirements - Listing of Qualified Applicants by Appointed Federal Examiner

15 Steady Progression of Change Voting Rights Act of 1957 ▫Gave Attorney General the right to issue injunctions against public and private entities on racial grounds Voting Rights Act of 1960 ▫Allowed joinder of states as parties in lawsuits ▫Voting records had to be provided to opposing council ▫Courts given ability to register voters in areas of historic discrimination Voting Rights Act of 1964 ▫Outlawed particular tactics of discrimination ▫Expedited hearing of voting cases before special three judge panels

16 Voting Rights Act of 1965 Consisted of four main sections: ▫Coverage Formula ▫Suspension of all voting eligibility tests ▫Federal review of new rules ▫Federal examiners

17 Coverage Formula The VRA created a two step test for determining whether a State was subject to the new voting provisions: ▫AG determination that the State maintained a “test or device” for voter eligibility ▫Director of the Census determined that less than 50% of the State’s voting age residents were registered or voted in the previous election

18 Suspension of Eligibility Tests Any State that fell under the coverage formula was temporarily barred from enforcing eligibility tests (literacy requirements, property ownership, etc.)

19 Federal Review of New Rules All States falling under the coverage area must submit any news rules to the District Court for the District of Columbia for approval. (Note: Only issue that was not unanimously approved by the U.S. Supreme Court)

20 Federal Voting Examiners AG appointed federal examiners to oversee voter registration in areas that: – Have received at least 20 written complaints – Examiners are necessary to guarantee the protections of the 15 th Amendment. Federal examiners test voting qualifications of applicants for suspect States. Examiners submit list of eligible voters to State authorities who must then add those names to their voting register.

21 South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966) South Carolina was the first state to fall under the VRA coverage formula. U.S. Supreme Court granted original jurisdiction due to the social unrest across the nation at that time. Katzenbach, a staunch civil rights advocate and the Attorney general, served as a catalyst for both supporters and opponents to civil rights legislation.

22 South Carolina v. Katzenbach Contd. Katzenbach himself gave the oral argument on behalf of the U.S. government. U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously approving all provisions, except: ▫Justice Black: Cases and Controversies

23 Interview with Katzenbach Legislation v. Litigation Oral Argument in front of USSC Significance of Voting Rights Act of 1965 Voting Discrimination Today

24 Modern Face of Voter Discrimination: Right to Access -Progression of Voting Rights Act - Bush v. Gore - Other Forms of Discrimination - Obama v. McCain -Department of Justice

25 Voting Rights Act of 1965 Section 5 of Voting Rights Act - Preclearance ▫Extended for 5 years in 1970 ▫Extended for 7 years in 1975 Mobile v. Bolden 1980 ▫Need proof of racially discriminatory purpose 1982: Congress got rid of new heightened std. ▫Only discriminatory impact required ▫Extended Section 5 another 20 years

26 Types of Voting Discrimination Cases First Generation: Physical intimidation and blatant disenfranchisement ▫Mostly gone by 1980s Second Generation: Voter dilution ▫Blatant but less violent Third Generation: Voter dilution ▫Less blatant, better justifications ▫Ex:Redistricting of minority districts

27 Bush v. Gore Jesse Jackson rallies do not get publicity Stories of racial discrimination ▫Picture identification ▫Sent on wild goose chase

28 Bush v. Gore Statistics African Americans made up 54% of votes not counted Automatic machines rejected 14.4% of African American votes and 1.6% of white votes Rejected African American precinct ballots twice the rate as Latino precincts and four times the rate as white precincts

29 Legal Ways of Exclusion Ex-felons not allowed to vote Voting is held on Tuesday ▫Blue collar voters cannot get off work

30 Obama v. McCain Line waiting time ▫68% of white voters waited 10 minutes or less ▫45% of black voters waited 10 minutes or less ▫5% of white voters waited an hour or longer ▫15% of black voters waited an hour or longer

31 Obama v. McCain Photo ID Requests ▫½ of white voters asked for photo identification ▫2/3 of black voters asked for photo identification African American Self-Discrimination?? ▫African American Poll workers asked 46% of African Americans for ID and only 30% of whites

32 DOJ Enforcement Blocked racial discriminatory procedures in Georgia this past summer Federal observers ▫Make sure voting procedures are being done properly DOJ educates states and localities on how to conduct procedures without discriminating

33 Contemporary Face of Voter Discrimination Litigation -Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District - Justice Roberts’ Opinion - Justice Thomas’ Dissent -U.S. v. Euclid City School Board - Lulac of Texas v. Texas Democratic Party - DOJ Attorney Scandal

34 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Plaintiff – Small district that set utility rates for the northern part of Travis County (Austin) The district tried to change how it elects the board that sets the rates Because Texas is subject to Section 5 of the VRA, the board had to get preclearance on any change

35 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder

36 The District has 2 arguments: ▫That it is not a “political subdivision” as defined by the VRA ▫That Section 5 of the VRA is unconstitutional

37 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Roberts opinion ▫The District is a “political subdivision” as defined by the VRA ▫There is no reason to address the Constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA

38 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Thomas Dissent ▫Because the 2 different arguments offer 2 different remedies, the Constitutional question must be addressed ▫Section 5 of the VRA is unconstitutional

39 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Thomas dissent ▫15 th Amendment: prohibits denying the ballot to anyone based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” ▫10 th Amendment: the states retain all power not delegated to the federal government

40 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Thomas dissent ▫15 th Amendment: prohibits denying the ballot to anyone based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” ▫Section 5: any change must be cleared by the DOJ  Even if is found to not discriminate based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”  Katzenbach ratified this expansion of the power of the 15 th amendment

41 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Thomas dissent ▫Katzenbach decision was justified due to the extraordinary nature of the problem  Violence  Repeated attempts to circumvent federal voting laws

42 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder Thomas dissent ▫The 2006 VRA was not passed with similar findings by congress ▫Congress acknowledged the primary motivations do not exist anymore ▫Congress justified the 2006 VRA because of secondary concerns of discrimination

43 Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder

44 Thomas dissent ▫Secondary motivations are not instances of purposeful discrimination ▫Isolated incidents of discrimination are not evidence of systematic discrimination

45 LULAC v. Texas Democratic Party In Texas, political parties run the primary elections In 1996, the Supreme Court held that political parties are subject to the VRA if they run elections that are similar in scope to elections that would otherwise be run by states

46 LULAC v. Texas Democratic Party In the 2008 primary election, the TDP had a plan to assign delegates based on the vote for the democratic gubernatorial candidate in the 2006 election White Districts received more delegates even though Latino districts voted for the candidate as a higher % ▫Similar to the 2000 presidential election

47 DOJ Attorney Scandal The Bush administration pushed some attorneys to pursue cases involving voter fraud ▫Some of these cases were to pressure states to remove voters from the voting rolls When attorneys refused, they were fired

48 DOJ Attorney Scandal The administration suggested the attorneys were fired for poor performance A congressional investigation revealed that the failure to pursue those cases was the primary motivating factor It led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

49 DOJ Attorney Scandal Issues ▫Is the VRA sufficient if the DOJ can be politicized to this extent? ▫Is this a reason to support the preclearance provision?

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