The Most Fundamental Right: Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act

The Most Fundamental Right: Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act

The Most Fundamental Right: Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act

The Most Fundamental Right: Contrasting Perspectives on the Voting Rights Act

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

The initial impetus for this book was a forum on voting rights at the University of Utah in 2006, sponsored by Rocco Siciliano. Mr. Siciliano has more than a passing interest in voting rights and minority issues. As an advisor to President Eisenhower, Rocco set up a meeting in 1958 between the president and civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. It was an auspicious moment. One of the topics they discussed was voting rights, according to Siciliano’s autobiography, Walking on Sand. We are indebted to Rocco for his many years of public service and for his sponsorship of the Siciliano Forum. We also want to thank the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah, a cosponsor of the Siciliano Forum on Voting Rights.

This book presents a lively debate among leading experts on the Voting Rights Act. It is important to note that all the authors are in agreement on one central idea: that elections should be free and fair to all people, regardless of race or ethnicity. Indeed, the reason why these authors became involved in the debate over the Voting Rights Act is because they care passionately about our elections and how to achieve that sometimes elusive goal of fairness. There are few if any fair-minded people today who are opposed to the original 1965 Voting Rights Act; we all understand that it was desperately needed at that time. The different perspectives presented here concern the contemporary application and enforcement of that act and its future directions. This is especially true of the “renewable” sections of the act, which continue to engender debate and litigation.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section provides an overview of the historical, legal, and political context of the Voting . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.