What Will the Life of Riley v. Kennedy Mean for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?

64 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2009 Last revised: 18 Feb 2012

Michael J. Pitts

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: January 9, 2009

Abstract

Riley v. Kennedy is the Roberts Court's first decision involving Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and also the first Section 5 decision following Congress' 2006 extension and amendment of Section 5. For these reasons, it's important to ponder what the case might mean for the future of Section 5. On the one hand, Riley could be viewed as a very fact-specific, narrow opinion that is unlikely to have much impact on the federal government's use of Section 5 to block voting changes that discriminate against minority voters. On the other hand, Riley could be viewed as an ominous portent of a new Supreme Court strategy for curbing Section 5's application. This Article explores both potential ways in which the life of Riley might play out-hoping for the narrow application, but expecting something more, and calling for Congress to react to the Court's decision in order to preserve the efficacy of Section 5 going forward.

Keywords: voting rights act, section 5, democracy, civil rights, riley v. kennedy

Suggested Citation

Pitts, Michael J., What Will the Life of Riley v. Kennedy Mean for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act? (January 9, 2009). Maryland Law Review, Vol. 68, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1325324

Michael J. Pitts (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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