Arkansas groups not asking US Supreme Court to review ruling limiting scope of Voting Rights Act | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Arkansas groups not asking US Supreme Court to review ruling limiting scope of Voting Rights Act

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Progressive groups in Arkansas have decided to not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a lower court's ruling that private groups can’t sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act.

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas State Conference NAACP, which challenged Arkansas’ new state House districts under the law, did not file a petition by Friday's deadline asking the high court to review the ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

John Williams, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said the decision to not seek review did not signal agreement with the court ruling that the groups believe is “radically wrong.” The ACLU represents the groups in the case.

Williams said they didn't seek review because they believe there's still a mechanism for private groups to sue under another section of federal civil rights law.

“Because that still exists, there was no need to bring this up before the Supreme Court,” Williams said Monday.

The groups’ decision avoids a fight before the high court over a ruling that civil rights groups say erodes the law aimed at prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The groups have argued last year’s ruling upends decades of precedent and would remove a key tool for voters to stand up for their rights.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January denied a request for the case to go before the full circuit court after a panel ruled 2-1 last year that only the U.S. attorney general can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires political maps to include districts where minority populations’ preferred candidates can win elections. Lawsuits have long been brought under the section to try to ensure that Black voters have adequate political representation in places with a long history of racism, including many Southern states.

The Arkansas lawsuit challenged the state House redistricting plan, which was approved in 2021 by the all-Republican state Board of Apportionment.

The 8th Circuit ruling applies only to federal courts covered by the district, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Arkansas' Republican attorney general, Tim Griffin, called the groups' decision to not take the issue to the Supreme Court a “win for Arkansas.”

“(The 8th Circuit ruling) confirmed that decisions about how to enforce the Voting Rights Act should be made by elected officials, not special interest groups," Griffin said in a statement.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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