Bench Memos

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What New Census Information Tells Us about Shelby County v. Holder


Information released yesterday by the Census Bureau about voter turnout in 2012 further undermines the constitutionality of the distinctions made by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act between the jurisdictions it covers and those it does not. This discussion here in the Atlantic Wire concludes that “those states [now covered by Section 5] didn’t see lower-than-average black turnout. In fact, averaging both turnout and deviance from the norm in those Voting Rights Act (VRA) states, we see that they outperformed non-VRA ones.” Earlier, they note, “Black turnout was highest in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and North Carolina. The lowest percentages — of eligible black voters, not of voters overall — were in Arizona, Washington, and Arkansas.” Chief Justice Roberts had noted Mississippi’s high black turnout rate at the oral argument in Shelby County v. Holder, where the constitutionality of Section 5 has been challenged.


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