The Most Fundamental Right

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-10-17
  • Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr

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Passed in 1965 during the height of the Civil Rights movement, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) changed the face of the American electorate, dramatically increasing minority voting, especially in the South. While portions of the Act are permanent, certain provisions were set to expire in 2007. Reauthorization of these provisions passed by a wide margin in the House, and unanimously in the Senate, but the lopsided tally hid a deep and growing conflict. The Most Fundamental Right is an effort to understand the debate over the Act and its role in contemporary American democracy. Is the VRA the cornerstone of civil rights law that prevents unfair voting practices, or is it an anachronism that no longer serves American democracy? Divided into three sections, the book utilizes a point/counterpoint approach. Section 1 explains the legal and political context of the Act, providing important background for what follows; Section 2 pairs three debates concerning specific provisions or applications of the Act; while Section 3 offers commentaries on the previous chapters from attorneys with widely divergent viewpoints.

Author Biography

Daniel McCool is Professor of Political Science at the University of Utah and author (with Susan Olson and Jennifer Robinson) of Native Vote: American Indians, the Voting Rights Act, and the Right to Vote.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
The Political and Legal Context of the Voting Rights Act
Meaningful Votesp. 3
The Constitutional Foundations of the "Preclearance" Process: How Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Was Enforced, 1965-2005p. 36
Influence District and the Courts: A Concept in Need of Clarityp. 67
The Debate
The Bull Connor Is Dead Myth: Or Why We Need Strong, Effectively Enforced Voting Rights Lawsp. 123
Bull Connor Is Long Dead: Let's Move Onp. 157
The Voting Rights Act in South Dakota: One Litigator's Perspective on Reauthorizationp. 188
Realistic Expectations: South Dakota's Experience with the Voting Rights Actp. 227
The Continuing Need for the Language-Assistance Provisions of the Voting Rights Actp. 247
Policy and Constitutional Objections to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Actp. 302
After NAMUDNO: The Shape of Future Litigationp. 345
Looking Backward to and Forward from the 2006 Voting Rights Act Reauthorizationp. 356
Contributorsp. 387
Indexp. 391
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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