Shelby County v. Holder: What does it mean, and what’s it’s significance to you?
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, December 11, 2016
Recall the recent Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder which involved Shelby County, Alabama?
The other party was Eric Holder, former Attorney General of the United States.
Essentially, that case gutted the heart of settled law which was the 1965 Voting Rights Act which protected minorities’ Civil Rights to Vote.
If you’re like most, you get your information from the MSM (Main Stream Media), which often doesn’t do a good job of explaining. And honestly, most folks are not up-to-date on Supreme Court cases. So here’s a quick explanation of how that could affect you, and your ability to vote… regardless of your skin color.
Calera is currently the fastest-growing city in Alabama. Before Calera’s local elections in 2008 the town had redrawn its city boundaries which eliminated the city’s only majority-Black district which had been represented by Ernest Montgomery since 2004, and decreased the voting-age Black population from 71-30% – even though the town’s Black voting-age population had grown from 13-16%. It did that by adding three overwhelmingly White subdivisions while failing to include a large surrounding predominately Black-populated neighborhood.
The United States Department of Justice objected to Calera’s actions, and notified City Officials, who defied the DOJ’s orders and held the election anyway, which caused Mr. Montgomery to lose the election by two votes, about which he said, “they voted against me because of the color of my skin.”
Under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Calera was required to submit proposed voting changes for Federal approval before they were enacted to ensure that they are free from discrimination. Because the City of Calera did not get the required pre-clearance before instituting its new redistricting plan, the election results that resulted from that plan were invalidated.
Ultimately, the Department of Justice rejected the redistricting plan that significantly diluted the voting power of the city’s African American population and required another election be held. That time, Ernest Montgomery regained his rightful seat by winning the most votes of any City Council candidate in the race. He remains Calera’s sole African American representative today.
Officials in Shelby County filed a suit challenging the constitutionality and scope of the Section 5 pre-clearance provision – which is the heart of the Voting Rights Act. In its challenge, Shelby County sought to invalidate Section 5 not only in Alabama, but in all 16 of the states that are fully or partially covered under the law.
Without the protections afforded by Section 5, discriminatory action like that recently done in Calera would be allowed to continue unchecked.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions said of the SCOTUS decision in Shelby County v. Holder that “Shelby County has never had a history of denying voters and certainly not now.”