By Cherri Gregg
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the constitutionality of a provision of the Voting Rights Act. A local expert says an adverse ruling could have national implications.
The Supreme Court challenge focuses on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acts, which forces 14 states, mostly in the South, to get pre-approval from the Justice Department before implementing any laws that affect voting.
The aim of that requirement was ending racial discrimination at the polls.
“The argument is, society is different now,” says Kermit Roosevelt, a Constitution expert and law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Roosevelt predicts that five of the nine justices will strike down Section 5, but says there could be be backlash.
“Striking down voting rights could be enough of a catalyst that we could get enough some other legislative reaction,” he says.
“We haven’t undone racism in our country,” says Jenny Flanagan, at the voter rights watchdog organization, Common Cause. She says Republicans would likely block a race-based legislative move, but other reforms are gaining bipartisan support.
“That includes modernizing our voter registration process, making voting more accessible,” she says.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule in June.