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News Posted on February 5, 2013

Professor Elmendorf Comments on Voting Rights Act for Reuters

Professor Christopher S. Elmendorf contributed an essay to an online forum hosted by the Reuters news agency on the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court review of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which determines which states must receive federal approval before making changes to their election laws due to their history of racial discrimination. 

In his essay "Delegate the oversight formula," Professor Elmendorf writes that the Section 5 "coverage formula" is untethered to evidence of current discrimination, leaving it vulnerable to legal challenges.  Political divisions in Congress have made it near impossible for lawmakers to update the formula, so Elmendorf suggests that Congress delegate that responsibility.

"If the court strikes down Section 5, Congress should re-enact it while delegating to the Justice Department, or a new administrative body, responsibility for determining which states are subject to oversight and which racial groups are protected in each state," he writes. "The new Section 5 would take effect only after the agency resolves these questions."

Christopher S. Elmendorf is a Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law whose teaching and research interests include election law, administrative law, statutory interpretation, constitutional law, and property and natural resources law. 

"Delegate the oversight formula"