Thursday, May 24, 2018

Supreme Court to reconsider landmark Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Friday it will consider eliminating the government's most potent weapon against racial discrimination at polling places since the 1960s. The court acted three days after a diverse coalition of voters propelled President Barack Obama to a second term in the White House.

With a look at affirmative action in higher education already on the agenda, the court is putting a spotlight on race by re-examining the ongoing necessity of laws and programs aimed at giving racial minorities access to major areas of American life from which they once were systematically excluded.

"This is a term in which many core pillars of civil rights and pathways to opportunity hang in the balance," said Debo Adegbile, acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In an order Friday, the justices agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the part of the landmark Voting Rights Act that requires all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval before making any changes in the way they hold elections.

The case probably will be argued in February or March, with a decision expected by late June.

The advance approval, or preclearance requirement, was adopted in the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to give federal officials a potent tool to defeat persistent efforts to keep blacks from voting.

The requirement currently applies to five counties in Florida: Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe.

The other states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia and certain counties in in California, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan and New Hampshire. Coverage has been triggered by past discrimination not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan Natives and Hispanics.

Before these locations can change their voting rules, they must get approval either from the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division or from the federal district court in Washington.

The appeal from Shelby County, Ala., near Birmingham, says state and local governments covered by the law have made significant progress and no longer should be forced to live under oversight from Washington.

"The America that elected and re-elected Barack Obama as its first African-American president is far different than when the Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965. Congress unwisely reauthorized a bill that is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp. It is unconstitutional," said Edward Blum, director of the not-for-profit Project on Fair Representation, which is funding the challenges to the voting rights law and affirmative action.

But defenders of the law said there is a continuing need for it and pointed to the Justice Department's efforts to block voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, as well as a redistricting plan in Texas.

Comments
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn’t headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn’t headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

TAMPA — Hours before the puck drops at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talks about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We don’t want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, who...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH — Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is converting its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retiring coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers died in June 2017 afte...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Adam Putnam cancels fundraiser with dog shooter supporter

Adam Putnam cancels fundraiser with dog shooter supporter

Adam Putnam has scrubbed plans to hold at fundraising reception today at the Orlando home of a man videotaped in 2008 shooting two pet huskies that entered a cow pasture. The cancellation came hours after The Buzz noted that the host of the reception...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Familiar softball foe upends Land O’Lakes’ state title hopes

Familiar softball foe upends Land O’Lakes’ state title hopes

VERO BEACH — To become the first Pasco County team and just the third from the area to win consecutive state titles, Land O’Lakes knew it had to get past a familiar — and determined — opponent in Thursday’s Class 6A championship game.The Gators faced...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Philip Levine, Gwen Graham grow campaign teams

Philip Levine, Gwen Graham grow campaign teams

As a public service to Florida political junkies interested in campaign hires, we have cut and pasted from campaign announcements:The Graham campaign is excited to welcome Monica Rodrigues, Ed Rodriguez, and Jenny Busby to Team Graham's political, po...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior on-set, at his production company, and during press junkets, according to a report.CNN reports that 16 people have spoken out against Freeman’s alleged misco...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump backs out of Kim Jong Un summit. Florida reacts.

Trump backs out of Kim Jong Un summit. Florida reacts.

WASHINGTON – President Trump said this morning he won't be meeting with Kim Jong Un, issuing a letter that mixed diplomacy with bravado."You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A white supremacist killed her twin. Why did she forgive him?

A white supremacist killed her twin. Why did she forgive him?

As a fifth-grader, Aleesha Mance wrote an essay about her sister’s killer, explaining how peer pressure and drugs led the 17-year-old to make a deadly choice. In high school, she searched for his name online. She read news articles about a tee...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Donald Trump Jr. to campaign in Florida for Gaetz, DeSantis

Donald Trump Jr. to campaign in Florida for Gaetz, DeSantis

Donald Trump Jr. will campaign in August for Reps. Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis, two of the president's most vocal supporters in Washington.In late June, possibly the 27th, the president's son will rally for DeSantis in The Villages, with Gaetz appear...
Updated: 1 hour ago