The Congressional Record Underlying the 2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act

50 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2008

See all articles by Kristen Clarke

Kristen Clarke

New York State Attorney General's Office


This article provides one of the first comprehensive examinations of the Congressional record underlying the July 2006 reauthorization and extension of the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. In this article, I argue that the recently reauthorized Section 5 provision will withstand constitutional scrutiny because of the voluminous legislative record that was amassed that is replete with evidence of voting discrimination. I argue that this record goes above and beyond the burdens that the Supreme Court's more recent federalism precedents place on Congress to justify the exercise of its authority in this context. I observe that the evidence and testimony proffered regarding ongoing voting discrimination served a particularly critical function during the reauthorization process while highlighting some notable features. Many of those witnesses who testified proffered first-hand accounts about their experiences in the covered jurisdictions that illustrated striking similarities between contemporary forms of voting discrimination and the kind of discrimination that characterized prior reauthorization periods. The record also contains numerous examples of the increasingly sophisticated forms of discrimination that have become more prevalent in certain areas. Evidence was also compiled illustrating the effectiveness of Section 5 in both deterring and combating voting discrimination. Moreover, evidence in the record helped animate the problems of ongoing discrimination in small, under-the-radar jurisdictions while illustrating the continuing need for Section 5's safeguards. I conclude that this record exhibits the particularly deliberative approach that Congress adopted during the reauthorization process and provides a basis for courts to exercise great deference to Congressional judgment in this context

Keywords: Voting Rights Act, Section 5, voting discrimination, Congressional record, Boerne, reauthorization, preclearance

JEL Classification: D72, J7

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Kristen, The Congressional Record Underlying the 2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 43, No. 2, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Kristen Clarke (Contact Author)

New York State Attorney General's Office ( email )

120 Broadway
New York, NY
United States
202-285-7464 (Phone)

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