A Blow to Minority Representation?

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: A Supreme Court decision made it more difficult for the Justice Department to reject election law changes that weaken minority voting power. By a 7-2 vote, justices clarified how courts may use the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when reviewing changes state or local governments make in district boundaries or other voting procedures. At issue was a Louisiana school redistricting plan that the Justice Department rejected under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for failing to comply with Section 2 of the act. Section 5 requires federal approval of many state and local election law changes, while Section 2 prohibits any voting practice that dilutes minority voting strength. A Louisiana court had rejected linking of the two sections as a way to disqualify the board's plan, saying they were never intended to be considered jointly. Although the Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's interpretation, justices sent the case back for restudy because they could not determine if all the evidence in the case had been reviewed.