Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Mukasey Decided

June 22, 2009

Whether Congress properly exercised its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment when, in 2006, it extended the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act 25 years based on an extensive record of ongoing discrimination against minorities in voting. DECIDED

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to submit any changes in their voting practices or procedures to the Department of Justice for preclearance. (Alternatively, they may seek preclearance from the federal court in Washington, D.C.) Section 5 has been extended four times since its original passage in 1965. The most recent extension took place in 2006, when Congress extended Section 5 for 25 years based on an extensive record documenting that voting discrimination was an ongoing problem. A municipal utility district in Texas has challenged that most recent extension as unconstitutional. On behalf of voters in the district, the ACLU has urged the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of this key provision of the Voting Rights Act, as it has repeatedly done in the past.

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