On Monday, November 20, a federal appeals court ruled that only the federal government has the right to bring suit against any form of voting discrimination. Until now, human rights organizations were also empowered to bring to justice any violation of the “Voting Rights Act”, a 1965 law which prohibits racial discrimination during elections. This judgment provoked indignation among activists for the rights of African-Americans.
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It all started with a complaint filed by the NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – an organization that defends the rights of African-Americans. This NGO believed that the latest electoral division carried out by the Republicans in the state of Arkansas disadvantaged the vote of blacks.
A local appeals court has just rejected the complaint, but it went even further since: according to the judge in charge of the case – a magistrate appointed by former President Donald Trump – only the federal government has the right to turn towards justice to denounce an act of electoral discrimination. This is a very narrow reading of the voting rights act which dates from 1965.
Until now, it was mainly civil rights associations which filed complaints against discrimination such as “gerrymandering”, for example, the electoral division supposed to ensure the victory of the party in power.
The Arkansas appeals court’s ruling sparked an outcry among civil rights advocates. The NAACP organization calls it ” parody of democracy “. According to several American media, there is a strong chance that the government will appeal and that the case will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.