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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 24, 2009 / 2 Tamuz 5769

Supremes shouldn't have ducked Voting Rights Act constitutionality

By Robert Robb

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Chief Justice John Roberts came to the U.S. Supreme Court with a mission. He wanted the court to begin deciding cases on the narrowest possible terms and, if possible, with less of a cacophony of squalling voices and intricately nuanced opinions.


The Roberts principle was on full display in the Voting Rights Act decision, written by Roberts himself, the court issued on Monday.


A small utility district in Texas had sued to get out from under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act. Under the act, the political jurisdictions of some states, including Texas and Arizona, have to submit all changes in election laws and procedures to the federal government for approval before implementing them.


The utility district was formed in 1987 and had no history of discriminatory election practices. There is a provision for political jurisdictions to get out from the preclearance requirement but the district was told that, since it wasn't involved in voter registration, it was ineligible.


So, the district sued, asking the court to declare either that it was eligible to be exempted or that preclearance unconstitutionally subjected equally sovereign states to different federal treatment.


In his opinion, Roberts wrote that preclearance was, indeed, constitutionally troubling. However, he also found that the district was eligible for an exemption, and that the case could be decided on that narrow basis, so he didn't opine on preclearance's constitutionality.


Seven other justices signed onto the Roberts opinion without offering independent views, a rarity. Only Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately, to say that he agreed that the district was eligible for an exemption, but that the court should also go ahead and say that preclearance was unconstitutional.


The Roberts principle is intended to keep the court constrained and provide greater clarity and guidance to future litigants by forging greater consensus. But when an important constitutional question is squarely before the court, as it was in this case, ducking it disserves the body politic and unfairly burdens litigants.


The Voting Rights Act, when initially enacted in 1965, forbade certain practices that had been used to prevent blacks from voting, such as literacy tests and poll taxes. The preclearance requirement was intended to prevent Jim Crow states from evading these prohibitions or devising new barriers. Preclearance was originally scheduled to expire after five years, but kept getting extended.


When the Voting Rights Act was renewed in 2006, preclearance was extended for another 25 years, until 2031. So, the election procedures for some states will have been subjected to far more extensive federal oversight than others for 66 years.


In the meantime, the differences between the states in terms of minority voter registration and voting have become statistically insignificant.


Because the court ducked the constitutionality of preclearance, the Texas utility district now has to make its case to be exempted, an arduous legal undertaking. And if it fails, it then has to go back to court to ask that preclearance be declared unconstitutional.


Moreover, the language of the Roberts decision about the suspect constitutionality of continuing the preclearance requirement is practically an invitation to litigate just that issue.


Arizona should accept that invitation. Arizona's entrapment in preclearance is positively Kafkaesque.


Arizona is subject to preclearance because in 1972 voter turnout was low and bilingual ballots weren't used. But the federal government didn't require bilingual ballots until the Voting Rights Act was amended in 1975. In other words, Arizona is subject to preclearance because it didn't comply with a federal requirement before it existed.


But no one — not the utility district, not Arizona, nor any other political jurisdiction subject to preclearance — should have to relitigate the issue.


The constitutionality of preclearance was squarely before the court. It was fully briefed and argued. It's an important issue affecting 16 states and some 12,000 political subdivisions.


The court shouldn't have ducked it.

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JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

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