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25 June 2013

SCOTUS: Come Up with a New Formula That Doesn't Punish Clayton County for the Sins of Others

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling that invalidates Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 4 contains a formula that determines which states, counties, or cities must get permission from the federal government before implementing any changes to election law; regardless of how benign those changes might be.

Clayton County, along with nineteen other Georgia counties with black populations exceeding 50% or more, is one of those jurisdictions required to get permission from the feds before they can change their voting laws.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, "Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance."

The twenty, majority-black counties in Georgia are no longer required to get the federal government to sign off on changes to their election law. Clayton County, which is 66% black, will no longer face punishment for the sins of others.

Back in February, the question was asked, "Why are majority black counties like Clayton & Hancock subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?"

The Supreme Court ruling says they are not. The Supreme Court ruling says no longer will majority black counties like Clayton be presumed guilty of enacting election rules with discriminatory intent, before proving themselves innocent. The Supreme Court ruling says, "The Fifteenth Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future. To serve that purpose, Congress —if it is to divide the States— must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions."

In other words, the Supreme Court is telling Congress to come up with a new formula; a modern formula to determine which areas of the country should be required to seek permission from the feds before changing voting procedures. The old formula, which was ruled unconstitutional, is designed to punish for the past.

If Congress acts, the new formula; the new Section 4 can ensure a better future.