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On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The question in this case was whether Congress’s 2006 decision to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.

In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights act is unconstitutional, and therefore cannot be used to subject jurisdictions to preclearance requirements. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito joined the majority opinion. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

To discuss the case, we have Abigail Thernstrom, who is the vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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