How The Voting Rights Act Ruling Impacts NY
While the Supreme Court 5-4 decision to strike down a portion of the Voting Rights Act has a more high-profile impact on southern states, there is a New York impact as well.
The provision for the Justice Department to review changes to election law also covers Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan in New York City.
More immediately, the most recent election law measures approved in the state Legislature — lever machines for New York City and moving the mayoral runoff date — will not require preclearance from the U.S. Justice Department.
In the longer term, New Yorkers wishing challenge any city or state election law change will potentially go through a far more complicated briar patch of legal manuevers, according to Jeff Wice, an outside counsel for the Senate Democrats who is now affiliated with Effective NY.
“Any New Yorker who now wants to challenge an election law would have to go through a costly and time consuming federal lawsuit where the burden is on the challenging plantiff to invalidate the law and it is always a difficult uphill battle,” Wice said in an interview.
And then there’s the scenario in which the redistricting issue could be revisited, but this time without preclearance from the Justice Department.
Wice, who is an attorney arguing on the Favors case challenging the Senate redistricting plan, said if a federal court tosses out the maps, the process will go back to the Legislature and the governor.
Only this time, there would be no approval from the Justice Department (which already signed off on the original maps drawn in 2012 by state lawmakers).
The Favors case is current in its pre-trial discovery phase in the Eastern District court in Brooklyn before a three-judge panel.
The expectation is the court would want to hear the case and make a decision before the 2014 elections.
Democratic officials in New York aren’t happy with the development.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 is deeply disappointing, and Congress must act immediately to develop a new coverage provision that will ensure equal access to the political process for every American,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statem. “While the Supreme Court has preserved the preclearance process of Section 5, it is now the responsibility of Congress to ensure that the Voting Rights Act continues to play its vital role in strengthening our democracy and combating and deterring voting discrimination.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on June 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm, and is filed under Courts. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|