Senate Republicans Seem Open to Weakening Voting Rights Act

Some lawmakers believe Section 5's time has come and gone.

Posted: 03/06/2013 11:29 AM EST

If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, could congressional lawmakers decide to vote it down? It is the view of some quarters that it would be politically incorrect to end the provision that requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get Justice Department approval for any changes to their voting laws and redistricting maps.

But a number of Republican senators on Tuesday indicated to a group of reporters that they believe it may no longer be necessary. That argument is at the heart of the case brought by Shelby County, Alabama, now before the court.

"I think there's a point in which it's a violation of equal protection to say that a jurisdiction has to be in the penalty box forever based on something that happened in the '60s and the late '50s," said Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Congress has reauthorized the landmark 1965 law four times, most recently in 2006 by a vote of 390-33 in the House and a Senate vote of 98-0. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in June.

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote to Sen. Lamar Alexander. The quote was made by Sen. Roger Wicker. BET.com regrets the error.

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