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Southern GOPers to challenge Voting Rights Act extension

[JURIST] A small minority of southern Republicans have announced their intention to challenge the renewal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act [text; DOJ introduction], currently being evaluated by Congress for a 25-year renewal on the grounds that it is unfair to southern states and no longer necessary. Though the White House, Congressional leaders of both parties, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the teh US Justice Department support the reauthorization of the Act [JURIST report] in its entirety, several southern lawmakers are critical of section 5, which requires southern states with dicriminatory voting records to seek federal approval before changing voting locations within districts, a requirement not imposed on northern states. The original purpose of the provision was to prevent the racist practice of moving voting locations to intentionally inconvenience black voters. Leading the opposition, first-term US House member Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) [official website] argues that the areas protected by the provision are now "controlled by minorities" and no longer need protection. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) [official website], one of many House members who support the renewal of the provision, has nonetheless noted that "in an ideal world we would not need the Voting Rights Act, and in an ideal world we could apply Section 5 across the board without watering it down and making it ineffective. But if history, both past and present, teaches us anything, it's that we do not live in an ideal world." AP has more.

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