The Effects on Voting Laws after the Shelby v Holder Supreme Court Ruling - 12

Supreme Court Oral Argument Highlights and Excerpts (continued)

Mr. Adegbile initiated his opportunity at a response with the polite phrasing of "Fair enough, Justice Breyer." He then spoke the opinion that evidence had shown Congress that it hadn't come to an end thus far, but went on to emphasize that it was recognized by Congress that a substantial amount of progress had been made. As an example of this he declared that the "examiner provision" which was planned to address the problem of registration had been taken away. He then directly answered Justice Breyer's question by saying that reaching a point where it's no longer needed would be some point in the future. He then explained an "overlooked provision" that stated that Congress should reexamine the concern in fifteen years from the latest reenactment to determine if it was still obligatory to continue. Since six years had passed since the time it was reenacted, nine years remained until that study would be held. He then stated that it was the view of the Respondent that it wasn't thought that it would be needed to be in place in "perpetuity" but referred to "the record" and reminded the Court of recent examples such as a case that took place this decade (2011) where "a Federal judge in Alabama cited this Court's opinion in Northwest Austin… there were legislators that sit today that were caught on tape referring to African American voters as illiterates." He further stated that "Their peers were referring to them as aborigines." Summing it up he said that the judge in that case (McGregor Case) "said that, yes, the South has changed and made progress, but some things remain stubbornly the same and the trained effort to deny African American voters the franchise is part of Alabama's history to this very day."

Chief Justice Roberts countered by asking Mr. Adegbile if there have been "egregious episodes" of the type he was referring to in non-covered States which was answered by "Absolutely, Chief Justice Roberts." The Chief Justice then explained to him that that fact didn't seem to assist his cause in making the point of the justification of the differential view between covered States and noncovered States.

Addressing Chief Justice Roberts's contention, Mr. Adegbile began to sum up all points relevant to his argument first by saying that he believed the "great weight of evidence" needed to be taken into account and "on some level you have to look at it - State by State." He also said that it was important to" step back and look at the great mosaic." He likened the statute to the Country's "March through history to keep promises that our Constitution says for too long were unmet." He went on to affirm that both Congress and the Supreme Court have worked concurrently, taking the aforementioned promises in earnest, and with respect to the extensive evidence which was cited by Congress, it was reasonable for the body to make the "decision that we need to stay the course so that we can turn the corner." He reiterated that the statute couldn't go on in perpetuity but pointed out that based on "our experience" in order to certify protections of voting rights we have learned that it was necessary for six amendments to the U.S. Constitution were needed to be brought, as well as various Federal laws enacted. These laws and amendments "protect uniform voters" as well as protecting individuals who have not had the chance to register to vote but nevertheless are eligible. He then summed up the basic principal by saying "… together these protections are important because our right to vote is what the United States Constitution is about."

Chief Justice Roberts then thanked Mr. Adegbile for his testimony and offered a five minute period for Mr. Rein to state his rebuttal. Mr. Rein was able to say "Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice," when Justice Sotomayor interceded and immediately began to question him before he could begin.

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