Yesterday, the Justices announced in a 5-4 decision that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 only applies to districts, where minorities make up more than half of their constituencies. Last fall, the Court decided to take on this issue, by reviewing whether the Act could be expanded to include districts whose minority base does not make up half of the population but has significant enough numbers to win minority candidacies with the support of some of the white voter base. If ruled that the Act could be expanded, minorities would be enabled to file lawsuits under the provisions of the ruling.
According to some opponents of the decision, this may now make it more difficult for a number of minority candidates to win elections. In addition, this may impact the election of Southern Democrats in the upcoming years, since this will now inevitably influence the redistricting of states after the Census 2010 survey is complete. An exemplary proponent of the expansion is the case of the North Carolina plan “that sought to preserve the influence of African-American voters even though they made up just 39 percent of the population in a state legislative district,” as indicated by the Washington Post.
The Court stated that the “50-percent rule” should be upheld in all districts.
– Marianne Peterson