The Most Fundamental Right

The Most Fundamental Right

Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act
Daniel McCool
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/17/2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-00194-8
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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 Bio

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.

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Table of Contents

Section I: The Political and Legal Context of the Voting Rights Act
1. Meaningful Votes \Daniel McCool
2. The Constitutional Foundations of the "Pre-Clearance" Process: How Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Was Enforced, 1965-2005 \Peyton McCrary
3. Influence District and the Courts: A Concept in Need of Clarity \Richard Engstrom
Section II: The Debate
4. The Bull Connor Is Dead Myth: Or Why We Need Strong, Effectively Enforced Voting Rights Laws \Laughlin McDonald
5. Bull Connor is Long Dead: Let’s Move On \Abigail Thernstrom
6. The Voting Rights Act in South Dakota: One Litigator’s Perspective on Reauthorization \Bryan Sells
7. Realistic Expectations: South Dakota’s Experience with the Voting Rights Act \Chris Nelson
8. The Continuing Need for the Language Assistance Provisions of the Voting Rights Act \James Thomas Tucker
9. Policy and Constitutional Objections to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act \Roger Clegg
Section Three: Commentary
10. After NAMUDNO: The Shape of Future Litigation \Edward Blum
11. Looking Backward to and Forward from the 2006 Voting Rights Act Reauthorization \Debo Adegbile

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