WashU Expert: Voting Rights Act should apply to federal government

In light of President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the United States Postal Service, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act should be revised to prohibit racial discrimination in voting by the federal government, says a Washington University in St. Louis expert on voting rights.

“As currently written, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — a nationwide and permanent prohibition against racial discrimination in voting — applies solely to states and their political subdivisions,” said Travis Crum, associate professor of law and an expert on voting rights, race and federalism.


“Despite being the primary protector of minority voting rights in the wake of Shelby County [v. Holder], Section 2 does not bind the federal government,” he said. It is time to remove that exemption.

Crum spelled out his arguments in a recent blog post at Take Care.

“Amending the Voting Rights Act to encompass the federal government would add a powerful tool against any future administration or Congress that engaged in racial discrimination in voting,” Crum said.

“Section 2 endorses a discriminatory effects standard that is far easier to prove than discriminatory intent,” Crum said. “Judges, after all, are reluctant to ascribe the actions of politicians as racist, even when there is smoking gun evidence. Thus, revising Section 2 to bind the federal government would ensure that future voting rights suits against federal statutes and regulations would need to establish only discriminatory effects rather than discriminatory intent.”

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