US Supreme Court ruling will directly affect Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The United States Supreme Court's five to four vote to change the Voting Rights Act set in 1965 will affect Louisiana and eight other states.

"Any change in a ballot, any change in a precinct, any change in voter qualifications, any change in any election law was subject to pre-clearance by the Justice Department," said Ray Diamond, a constitutional law professor at LSU.

Diamond says because the high court declared the formula used to determine which jurisdictions should be under that pre-clearance requirement is outdated, it basically lifts the restrictions on the states and districts that already fell under the voter discrimination umbrella.

"States like Louisiana will be able to do whatever they want to do with respect to voting and elections, so long as they don't violate the 15th amendment's demand not to discriminate racially," added Diamond.

Opponents of the ruling say one of the major consequences will be instead of having the Justice Department make decisions on state voting procedures, district courts will be tied up with countless cases claiming voter discrimination.

"It's going to be far reaching because a lot of people in this community not just voters but business people and everybody else that will have to foot this financial burden for all the litigation that is going to be filed," said Dr. Ernest Johnson, President of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP.

Johnson believes the chances of Congress actually revising the formula is unrealistic and adds while states like Louisiana have made progress because of the old law, there is still a long way to go.

"When you have national politics and the type of turnout that we had in African American community and then you have the low turnout that we had two years earlier in statewide election there still is work to be done," said Johnson.

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler disagrees and says pre-clearance was costing Louisiana and other affected states thousands of dollars and adds over the last 20 years, Louisiana has proven it can handle elections and voting rights with the utmost care.

"We were put on training wheels and we deserved to be put on training wheels but every day at some point you get off those wheels. It's time to revert it back to the states and my job is to maintain the integrity of the election and keep that movement moving forward," said Schedler.

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