MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The U. S. Supreme Court is expected to rule as soon as Thursday on a suit filed by Shelby County to strike down Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Section 5 requires that the Justice Department pre-approve any changes in districting or voting laws in a number of primarily southern states.
Some pundits argue that Section 5 has come to be used more as a tool to ensure minority populations in legislative bodies, than a way to tackle ballot box issues.
In oral arguments at the end of April, Justice Scalia agreed, saying that Section 5 perpetuates racial entitlement.
Chief Justice Roberts questioned the law on the presumption of regional racism, and Kennedy, the swing Justice on the court, questioned Section 5 based purely on federalism grounds.
The point is that, even though Congress overwhelmingly renewed the Voting Rights act for 25 year in 2006, this Supreme Court decision could go either way.
If Shelby County loses we will have Section 5 as law for another 18 years, and the image of a racially charged South will continue, warranted or not.
More importantly, if Section 5 is stricken, the question becomes "Have we progressed far enough so that we no longer need a Section 5 to ensure fairness in the voting process?"
I'd like to think we have, and I hope so.