Supreme Court to Congress: We gave you a chance, you didn't listen: Today’s Shelby County decision in Plain English

by - June 25, 2013

Today’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a new challenge to the preclearance requirements, boils down to a new message to Congress:  we warned you, you didn’t listen, and now it’s your problem to fix.  The Court did not invalidate the actual preclearance provision of the statute.  But it did something just as significant:  it struck down Section 4 of the Act, which contains the formula that is used to identify the state and local governments that have to comply with the preclearance requirements.  The upshot is that although the preclearance requirement survives, none of those jurisdictions have to comply with it unless and until Congress can enact a new formula to determine whom it covers – a prospect that, given the current state of gridlock in Congress, might not happen for a while or even forever.


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