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24–283 PDF








NOVEMBER 1, 2005

Serial No. 109–69

Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary

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Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov


F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
DARRELL ISSA, California
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JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California

PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel

Subcommittee on the Constitution
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STEVE CHABOT, Ohio, Chairman

MARK GREEN, Wisconsin

JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina

PAUL B. TAYLOR, Chief Counsel
KIMBERLY BETZ, Full Committee Counsel
DAVID LACHMANN, Minority Professional Staff Member


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NOVEMBER 1, 2005

    The Honorable Steve Chabot, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio, and Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable Melvin L. Watt, a Representative in Congress from the State of North Carolina, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable Robert C. Scott, a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution


Mr. Mark A. Posner, Adjunct Professor, American University, Washington College of Law
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

Ms. Brenda Wright, Managing Attorney, National Voting Rights Institute
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

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Mr. Roger Clegg, Vice President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

Mr. Jerome A. Gray, State Field Director, Alabama Democratic Conference
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement


Material Submitted for the Hearing Record

    Appendix to the Statement of Brenda Wright: Testimony of Brenda Wright before the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act, October 29, 2005

    Appendix to the Statement of Brenda Wright: Letter from Isabelle Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, to Sandra Shelson, Esq., Special Assistant Attorney General, State of Mississippi

    Appendix to the Statement of Brenda Wright: Young v. Fordice 520 U.S. 273 (1997)

    Appendix to the Statement of Roger Clegg: Letter from Roger Clegg to the Honorable Robert C. Scott, November 2, 2005

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Material Submitted for the Record by Mr. Feeney during the hearing:

Peyton McCrary, et al., ''The End of Preclearance As We Knew It: How the Supreme Court Transformed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act''

Material Submitted for the Record by Mr. Chabot on November 1, 2005:

Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board (520 U.S. 471, 117 S.Ct. 1491)

Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board (528 U.S. 320, 120 S.Ct. 866)



House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC.

    The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 p.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Steve Chabot (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.

    Mr. CHABOT. Good afternoon. This is the Subcommittee on the Constitution, and it will come to order now. This is the fifth in a series of hearings on the Voting Rights Act that we have held thus far. More specifically, this is the third in examining section 5 and the preclearance requirements it imposes on covered States and counties. Section 5 is one of the several temporary provisions set to expire in 2007.
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    We have yet another distinguished panel with us here this afternoon. We are very fortunate to have such a distinguished panel. I appreciate the witnesses taking time out of their busy schedules and especially with the expertise that they have. And we are continuing to examine the impact and effectiveness and continued need for section 5.

    Section 5 was enacted in 1965 as part of the Voting Rights Act, along with several other temporary and permanent provisions, to end almost a century of discrimination against minorities in the political process. It was designed to prevent certain States and political subdivisions from undermining Federal efforts to enforce the constitutional guarantees of the 14th and 15th amendments.

    As we discussed in our earlier hearing, section 4 of the Voting Rights Act set forth a formula to cover jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. To protect minority voters and the progress made to date, Congress required these covered jurisdictions to preclear all voting and election changes with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or the Attorney General before being able to give effect to such changes.

    In submitting changes, covered States and counties are required to prove that such a change, ''does not have the purpose or effect of denying a citizen's right to vote on account of race, color or language minority status.''

    The Department of Justice and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia enforced section 5 by requiring covered jurisdictions to prove that such a change was not made with a purpose to discriminate and will not have the effect of making minority voters worse off. Such was the standard until 2000 when the Supreme Court deviated from this standard in the case of Reno v. Bossier Parish, also known as Bossier II. In Bossier II the Supreme Court held that section 5 only required a covered jurisdiction to prove that a change was nonretrogressive in purpose and effect.
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    The holding of the Court therefore allowed changes that are enacted with a nonretrogressive but discriminatory purpose to be precleared under section 5. Some suggest that this standard is contrary to the broad purpose of the Voting Rights Act in section 5, which is to prohibit discrimination in all forms.

    During this hearing, we will discuss Congress' intent in enacting section 5, the Department of Justice's and U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia's enforcement efforts prior to and after Bossier, and the potential solutions to remedy the impact if the decision is contrary to Congress' intent.

    Again, we very much appreciate such a distinguished panel as we have before us this afternoon. And I will now yield, I believe, to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, for the purpose of making an opening statement.

    Mr. WATT. I thank the Chairman for yielding. I am not sure how I got yielded to first, but I will take whatever order you want to take me in.

    Mr. CHABOT. We would suggest 5 minutes, but——

    Mr. WATT. All right, 5 minutes.

    Mr. CHABOT. Or less.

    Mr. WATT. Or less. Today is our fifth hearing on the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the third in which we focus on section 5. Today we begin to consider whether the Supreme Court in a number of cases has strayed from the statutory intent of Congress in enacting section 5 through its interpretations of challenges under the act.
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    Section 5 requires covered jurisdictions to submit proposed voting changes to the Department of Justice or a three-judge court for preclearance. The jurisdiction bears the burden of proving that the proposed change, ''does not have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging a citizen's right to vote on account of race, color, or language minority status.''

    For that case, the Supreme Court recognized that a voting change that was constructed with a discriminatory purpose violated section 5 and could not be precleared by the Justice Department or the three-judge court.

    Proof of discriminatory purpose or intent has always been a formidable challenge, and as modes of discrimination become more sophisticated and less obvious, proof of discriminatory intent increasingly seem to be practically insurmountable. Yet, for years, minority voters and their advocates shouldered that overwhelming burden where necessary to prove intent where a voting change in a section 5 jurisdiction was motivated by a racial animus and intent to discriminate.

    The Reno v. Bossier Parish school board, the so-called Bossier II case, on its facts was such a case. In Bossier II a Louisiana parish school board adopted a redistricting plan with the specific and successful intent to keep Blacks off the school board.

    Because no Blacks had previously served on the school board, however, the Supreme Court held that there was no retrogression; that is, there was no backsliding and, hence, no violation of section 5 in that case. The decision of the Court in Bossier II was a radical departure from prior judicial interpretations of section 5, many of which are addressed in the written submissions from the witnesses today.
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    Under Bossier II, if blatant discrimination operates to keep a minority group, ''in its place,'' there is no violation of section 5.

    This cannot be what Congress intended in 1965 when it resolved to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims as the Supreme Court noted in South Carolina v. Katzenbach. A rule of law that permits intentionally discriminatory policies that deliberately stagnate the progress of racial minority is counter to our democratic principles and invites racial hostility and polarization.

    I hope that these hearings will form the basis for us to address and correct the Supreme Court's decision in Bossier II and the corrosive effect it is having on political participation for minorities.

    Indeed, Mr. Chairman, as we prepare to say our final good-bye to Rosa Parks whose courageous defiance served as a catalyst to the civil rights movement, it seems only fitting that we reaffirm that our Nation does not sanction the racial subjugation of minorities either on the bus or at the polls.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses and thank the witnesses for being here to enlighten us here today.

    Thank you so much. I yield back.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentleman yields back his time.
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    The very distinguished Ranking Member of the full Committee, Mr. Conyers, is recognized for the purpose of making an opening statement. I would also note that a significant number of Members of the House, including myself and others, will be traveling to the gentleman's district, I believe tomorrow, for the purpose of attending the funeral of Ms. Parks.

    The gentleman is recognized.

    Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Chairman Chabot. I am delighted that my friend from North Carolina would couch his opening statements in the backdrop of the incredible outpouring of grief and sentiment about the contributions of the mother of the civil rights movement, whose third tribute, memorial and home-going, will take place in Detroit tomorrow. We have had to enlarge to two planes, now leaving; and I am glad that the Chairman of this Subcommittee, as well as other Members of the Republican Party, are going as well.

    The only thing I wanted to add to Mr. Watt's commentary is the fact that we are dealing with the most sensitive part, in my mind, of this reauthorization process, section 5. What we are going to be asked to do sooner or later is to look at a decision which has reversed over 3 decades of practice about how section 5 would be implemented.

    There are a couple of considerations here. Number one is that we have had a restriction of the application of section 5 preclearance submissions that have been very, very noted under—as a result of Bossier II in particular. Also, the fact that in section 5 we intended to prohibit the implementation of racially motivated changes, and it is almost undeniable that Bossier, by a 5–4 decision, was not adequately decided.
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    Now, this is not the first time that the Congress and this Committee have been called upon to rectify the problems in judicial interpretation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This has happened before, and it will probably be suggested that it happen again. It is extremely important that the way that we make sure that we don't slip back into the past is that the preclearance submission requirement be carefully gone over, and just to make sure that we all feel good about what we may be called upon to do, we just had to correct a court decision in the highest court of the land, in takings under eminent domain only last week in the Kelo case.

    So, sometimes it is our job. As we look back at the effects of the Supreme Court decision we realize that it is very important that we make the correction and that we don't let a case stand like that. I think that this is essentially what we are confronted with today; and I am very happy that we have got such a distinguished panel of witnesses.

    I look forward to a very stimulating discussion, and I thank the Chairman for the time and return what is remaining.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. The gentleman yields back.

    Are there any other Members that would like to make any opening statement?

    The gentlemen from Virginia, Mr. Scott is recognized.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you for convening the hearing.
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    The purpose of these hearings is to establish a record to justify the reauthorization of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Jurisdiction covered by section 5 must receive prior approval from the U.S. Attorney General or prior judicial approval from the three-judge panel in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., for all proposed voting changes.

    The importance of this provision has been recognized by several civil rights organizations in previous hearings. A bipartisan congressional report in 1982 warned that without the section, discrimination would appear—would reappear overnight. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, I don't think it would take that long.

    Without prior approval, preclearance jurisdictions could proceed to elect to make changes in elections and have elections on what would later be determined by courts pursuant to a section 2 challenge to be illegal changes.

    Bringing a section 2 action is very expensive, more than what most voters or small groups may be willing to afford to vindicate their rights. And even if they were able to make a case and be successful, this would be years down the road by the time you take into account the time frame for litigation, including appeals. By then, the winner of the illegal election is an incumbent, and we all know from our experiences as well as from observing other races in which there is an incumbent and from testimony before this Subcommittee, that incumbency is a huge and, more often than not, dispositive advantage in an election.

    So it is clear that if we do not renew this section, we would essentially create a perverse incentive to pass illegal plans with no immediate recourse. Unfortunately, due to the 2000 Supreme Court case, Bossier Parish, we do need to consider more than a simple renewal of section 5. We have to also renew and strengthen its traditional intent and purpose of disallowing voting changes with a discriminatory purpose as well as just effects. The Department of Justice, the courts and all proponents of section 5 have long understood and interpreted it to prohibit jurisdictions from implementing both purposeful discrimination and those that changes with retrogressive effect. However, the majority in Bossier Parish II effectively eliminated the purpose prong of the preclearance requirement.
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    The Court held that section 5 was intended only to prevent specific instances in which changes would make minority voters worse off than they were prior to the change. The majority in that case incorrectly interpreted congressional intent in crafting section 5 by limiting its impact to those cases where there was the retrogression; and this leaves, of course, the absurd result that when a clear section 2 violation is offered in a change for preclearance,if the illegal plan is no worse than the existing illegal plan, the Justice Department would have to preclear it. That eviscerates the very purpose of section 5 preclearance.

    So Congress must not only reauthorize section 5, but we must also clarify its intent that section 5 preclearance would disallow and prevent all voting practices that have a discriminatory purpose.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you, and the gentlemen yields back. I would note the attendance today, as well, of the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Scott, who is not a Member of this Committee, but has been very studious, I would say, in attending many of the hearings we have had thus far, and we appreciate your attendance as well.

    At this time, I would like to introduce our very distinguished panel. Before I do that, I would note that, without objection, all Members will have 5 legislative days to submit additional materials for the hearing record.

    Our first witness this afternoon will be Mr. Mark Posner. Mr. Posner is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Maryland's School of Law and at American University's Washington College of Law, as well as an independent consultant in the area of civil rights.
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    Prior to teaching and consulting, Mr. Posner served as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division from 1980 until 2003. Between the mid-1980's through 1995 he was one of two attorneys responsible for reviewing section 5 preclearance submissions and served as special section 5 counsel from 1992 until 1995.

    Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Posner was a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Harry Pregerson.

    We very much welcome you here this afternoon, Mr. Posner.

    Our second witness will be Ms. Brenda Wright. Ms. Wright currently serves as the Managing Attorney for the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. As Managing Attorney, Ms. Wright directs the NVRI's nationwide litigation program and has served as lead counsel for the Institute in landmark cases in Vermont and New Mexico, defending the constitutionality of campaign spending limits.

    Prior to joining the NVRI, Ms. Wright served as the Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she successfully argued the first Supreme Court case, Young v. Fordice, involving the voter law. In addition to authoring many publications on voting rights and campaign finance reform, Ms. Wright has testified before Congress and State legislatures on several occasions.

    We welcome you back, Ms. Wright.

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    Our third witness will be Mr. Roger Clegg. Mr. Clegg is Vice President and General Counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity, where he specializes in civil rights, immigration and bilingual education issues.

    Prior to his work at the Center, Mr. Clegg held a number of positions at the U.S. Department of Justice between the years 1982 and 1993 including that of Assistant to the Solicitor General. From 1993 to 1997, Mr. Clegg was Vice President and General Counsel of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, where he wrote and edited a variety of publications on legal issues of interest to business.

    Mr. Clegg is the author of numerous publications, writes frequently for USA Today, the Legal Times, and The Weekly Standard and serves as a contributing editor for the National Review online.

    We welcome you here, as well, Mr. Clegg.

    Our fourth and final witness this afternoon will be Mr. Jerome A. Gray. Mr. Gray currently serves as the State Field Director for the Alabama Democratic Conference, a position he has held for 25 years.

    During the 1980's, Mr. Gray played an instrumental role in organizing and mobilizing Black citizens at the county and municipal levels to successfully challenge the administration of discriminatory election systems. In addition, for more than 20 years, Mr. Gray served as a member of the Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, investigating civil rights injustices throughout the State.
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    Mr. Gray is the coauthor of the Alabama chapter in the highly acclaimed publication edited by Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman, Quiet Revolution in the South: ''The Impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1965–1990,'' and has served on numerous panels discussing race, politics and voting.

    Mr. Gray is a life member of the Conecuh—am I pronouncing that correctly—County branch of the NAACP, and is the Political Action Chairman of the NAACP State Conference.

    We welcome the entire panel. As we said, we have a very distinguished panel here this afternoon.

    For those of you who may not have testified before the Committee, we have what is called a 5-minute rule where you are allowed to testify for 5 minutes. We have a lighting system; there are two separate lights there, the green light will stay on for 4 minutes, the yellow light will let you know you have 1 minute to go and the red light will indicate you that your 5 minutes are up. I won't gavel you down immediately, but we ask you to stay within the confines of the 5-minute rule.

    We will have 5 minutes to ask questions as well, so we will stick by that same rule.

    It is the practice of the Committee to swear in all witnesses appearing before it, so if you would all please rise and raise your right hand.
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    [Witnesses sworn.]

    Mr. CHABOT. All witnesses have indicated in the affirmative. We thank you very much, and we now begin with you, Mr. Posner, and you're recognized for 5 minutes.


    Mr. POSNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good afternoon to you and to the distinguished Members of this Committee.

    It is an honor to testify before you today regarding the reauthorization of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, one of our Nation's most important civil rights laws.

    It is my firm belief that Congress, as part of a section 5 reauthorization, should legislatively reverse the Supreme Court's January 2000 decision in Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board. There are three reasons for this.

    First, the five-Justice majority in Bossier Parish badly misconstrued the meaning of the discriminatory purpose test contained in section 5. For over 34 years prior to this decision, section 5 prohibited the implementation of voting changes adopted with a racially discriminatory purpose. Now, according to the Court, racially motivated voting changes are almost always completely legal under section 5.

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    Specifically, the section 5 purpose test now only applies if, per chance, a jurisdiction were to intend to cause a retrogression in minorities' electoral opportunity, but somehow messes up and adopts a change that, in fact, is not retrogressive. This is highly unlikely to occur, and in fact, in the nearly 5 years since Bossier Parish was decided, the Justice Department has reviewed approximately 76,000 voting changes and no such incompetent retrogressor has appeared.

    Adopting such a specialized and esoteric definition of discriminatory purpose is not what Congress intended when it enacted the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The plain meaning of the word ''purpose'' in section 5 encompasses any and all discriminatory purposes, not merely a purpose to cause retrogression.

    As the Supreme Court explained when it upheld the constitutionality of section 5 in 1966, Congress adopted the statute to respond to exceptional conditions by acting in a decisive manner through an uncommon exercise of congressional power. Clearly, Congress knew that this historic effort necessitated a prohibition on all purposeful discrimination in voting.

    Second, as a matter of actual practice, the Bossier Parish decision has substantially undercut the ability of the Justice Department and the District Court for the District of Columbia to employ section 5 to block the implementation of discriminatory changes.

    At the time that Bossier Parish was decided, a majority of the Justice Department's section 5 objections were based on discriminatory purpose, and the clear trend line from the 1970's to the 1980's to the 1990's was that discriminatory purpose increasingly was the basis on which the Department was interposing objections. About four-fifths of the Department's objections to post-1990 redistricting plans were based on discriminatory purpose and about a third of the objections to the post-1980 plans were interposed on this basis.
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    Not surprisingly, therefore, after Bossier Parish, the Justice Department has interposed many fewer objections to redistricting plans and to voting changes in general.

    Third, the section 5 discriminatory purpose test is fully capable of administration by the Justice Department and the District Court for the District of Columbia and does not raise any constitutional concerns. It may be that the Supreme Court's central problem with the section 5 purpose test is that it does not trust the Justice Department to apply this test in an appropriate manner.

    In 1995, a five-Justice majority of the Court averred that the Department was using the purpose test as a cover for implementing a near-unconstitutional policy of maximization. Then, in Bossier Parish, the same five Justices suggested that the purpose test itself might render section 5 unconstitutional.

    Since purposeful discrimination is the core conduct prohibited by the 15th amendment, this statement seems explainable only if the five Justices were referring to the false purpose test they believe the Justice Department was enforcing. It is my conclusion, however, that the Justice Department, in fact, did not apply the section 5 purpose test in an unlawful or inappropriate manner.

    The Department utilized the well-established framework for conducting discriminatory purpose analyses set forth by the Supreme Court in the Arlington Heights case and also relied on the analytic factors described in the Department's procedures for the administration of section 5.
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    The Department first began to rely extensively on the purpose test in the 1980's during the Reagan administration when William Bradford Reynolds was Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and the purpose objections interposed thereafter reflected a continuation of the modes of analysis begun at that time. Still, in light of the concern expressed by the Supreme Court, Congress should consider what actions it may take to provide further assurance that the Justice Department and the District of Columbia court will employ the purpose test in an appropriate manner if Bossier Parish is legislatively reversed. Specifically, Congress should consider including statutory language and/or legislative history that would provide clear guidance to the Department and the District Court with regard to the manner in which the section 5 purpose test should be utilized.

    For these reasons, I believe that Congress should act to reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Bossier Parish to restore the section 5 purpose test to the meaning Congress intended when it enacted section 5 in 1965. Discriminatory purpose under section 5 should again mean discriminatory purpose.

    Thank you.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Posner follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. Ms. Wright, you're recognized for 5 minutes.


    Ms. WRIGHT. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee. I very much appreciate the opportunity to testify here in favor of reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    I am here today to discuss in particular the need to fully restore section 5's protections against purposeful racial discrimination in voting. As you have indicated, Mr. Chairman, those protections were fundamentally weakened by the Supreme Court's January 2000 decision in the Bossier Parish case. In that decision, a narrow majority said that the Justice Department must approve certain racially discriminatory voting changes under section 5 even if the Justice Department determines that the discrimination was intentional.

    I believe the Bossier Parish decision was contrary to Congress' intent in enacting section 5 and contrary to well-settled precedent. By its terms, section 5 bars any voting change that is racially discriminatory either in its purpose or its effect.

    Prior to the Bossier Parish decision, it was clear that the purpose and effect test of section 5 were independent, so that failure to satisfy either one meant that the voting change should not be precleared.
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    A series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1970's and 1980's established that a showing of retrogression was necessary to support an objection under the effects test, but also made it clear that any voting change that was the product of intentional racial discrimination was barred under section 5 whether or not it was retrogressive. A good example of this was a 1975 case, City of Richmond v. United States, in which the Court explained in a very vivid way why a change with no unlawful effect should still be denied preclearance if adopted for a discriminatory purpose. In the Court's words, an official action, whether an annexation or otherwise, taken for the purpose of discriminating against Negroes on account of their race has no legitimacy at all under our Constitution or under the statute.

    For many years, the Justice Department relied on this understanding of the purpose test to deny preclearance to any changes that reflected intentional racial discrimination. But the Bossier Parish decision changed all this by ruling that the intent prong of section 5 covers only so-called ''retrogressive intent,'' that is, an intent to make things worse for minority citizens as compared to the status quo. Under that interpretation, a jurisdiction that never had minority representation on its elected body could continue to adopt new redistricting plans, intentionally designed to freeze out minority voting strength; and section 5 would provide no protection.

    The facts in the Bossier Parish case, as Representative Watt indicated, provide a good illustration of that. In 1990, African-Americans constituted approximately 20 percent of the population in the parish, yet no African-American had ever been elected to the 12-member school board. The school board refused to include any majority Black districts in the new plan even though the school board later stipulated that it was, ''obvious that a reasonably compact Black majority district could be drawn within Bossier City.''
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    There was even testimony that two school board members acknowledged that the redistricting plan reflected opposition to Black representation or a Black majority district. The Supreme Court nevertheless ruled that the Justice Department was powerless to block the school board's plan under section 5 because the plan did not have a retrogressive purpose. That decision greatly weakens protections of the Voting Rights Act.

    If this interpretation had been applied during the first 35 years of section 5's history, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia probably would not have won election to the U.S. Congress in 1986. In the early 1980's, Georgia enacted a discriminatory congressional redistricting plan that fragmented the Black population in the Atlanta area. The Georgia legislator who headed the redistricting committee openly declared his opposition to drawing so-called Negro districts, except that he did not use the word ''Negro;'' he used the racial epithet.

    Because of the clear evidence of racism behind the plan, the Justice Department objected even though the plan was not retrogressive. Georgia then redrew the district and the result was that Congressman Lewis was able to win election. But under the Bossier Parish decision, the Department of Justice would have been obliged to approve Georgia's original discriminatory plan.

    The decision has also had a serious detrimental impact on actual section 5 enforcement since it was issued. In 1980's and 1990's, before the Bossier Parish decision, over 200 section 5 objections were based solely on racially discriminatory intent. By contrast, in the first 4 1/2 years after the Bossier Parish decision, only two objections were based solely on intent.
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    All of this underscores the importance of restoring the original intent of section 5 when Congress reauthorizes it. When a jurisdiction deliberately acts to lock minorities out of electoral power, that jurisdiction should not be entitled to preclearance simply because minorities have always been discriminated against in the jurisdiction.

    Intentional racial discrimination should not be tolerated under section 5. Such a result is fundamentally inconsistent with our Nation's values.

    Thank you.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much.

    [The prepared statement of Ms. Wright follows:]


[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]

    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Clegg, you're recognized for 5 minutes.


    Mr. CLEGG. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am delighted to have the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee today.
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    I am going to focus, as my co-panelists have focused, on the Bossier Parish decisions. But I also want to make clear that I have problems with the whole notion of reauthorizing section 5, and in my written testimony I go into more detail about why I don't think that section 5 should be reauthorized.

    And beyond that, I have other problems with the Voting Rights Act, including the bilingual ballot provisions and the results test in section 2. But I am not going to get into all that; I will just leave that to my written testimony. And today I will focus on the Bossier Parish decisions.

    By way of background, let me make clear that the Voting Rights Act really has two key provisions. The two most prominent provisions are section 2 and section 5. Section 2 applies nationwide and bans any racially discriminatory voting qualification or prerequisite to voting standard practice or procedure.

    Section 5, on the other hand, is not nationwide in scope. Rather, it applies only to certain jurisdictions called ''covered jurisdictions,'' and it requires them to preclear changes to voting qualifications and prerequisites to voting with either the Justice Department or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    As a practical matter, that means that most of these changes are submitted to the Justice Department, and this includes anything from a relatively minor change like moving a voting booth across the street from the elementary school to a high school, to undoubtedly major changes like redrawing a State's congressional districts.
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    What the Supreme Court said in the two Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board decisions was that these two statutes had very different purposes and that, because section 5 is aimed at changes in voting practices, it is violated only if the changes are retrogressive. That is, the whole purpose of section 5 was to enable the Justice Department to go after jurisdictions, particularly in the covered jurisdictions in the Deep South, that for years had stayed one step ahead of the people trying to enforce the 15th amendment by making a series of changes—you know, tiny changes to keep one step ahead of the law enforcement officials.

    What the Supreme Court said was that, well, since that was the purpose of section 5, if a jurisdiction is not making a change that is retrogressive, section 5 was not intended to apply to it.

    Now, I think that the Supreme Court was correct in its interpretation of the language and intent of section 5, but of course, that is not really the issue today. The issue today—because you all can change section 5, obviously, to make it clear if you think that the Supreme Court made a mistake. So the question today is, should you want to change section 5 so that, for instance, a potential violation of section 2 justifies a preclearance denial under section 5?

    I think that would be a mistake. What my co-panelists are assuming is that if the Justice Department thinks that a jurisdiction acted with discriminatory purpose, that is proof that it acted with discriminatory purpose. But that is not the way, as a general matter, that our legal system works. Usually, before we have a decision like that, both sides ought to be able to argue their side of the case.
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    But when you have a section 5 denial, you just have one side's opinion about that, without a trial or a formal hearing or anything of that sort. And, as the Supreme Court recognized in Bossier Parish II, section 5 contains, ''extraordinary burden-shifting procedures.''

    And while section 5 is normally aimed at a simple determination of whether or not there was backsliding—the kind of relatively technical and relatively straightforward factual determination that can be left to a bureaucrat, rather than a court of law—determining, for instance, whether there is a section 2 violation is much more complicated than that. You have to make a difficult legal appraisal, and you have to weigh the ''totality of the circumstances.'' And that is something that ought to be decided in congressional litigation rather than by a low-level bureaucrat.

    You know, it is one thing to give such an individual the authority to hold up a change; it is something else to give a person, an unelected official like that, the effective authority to order changes where no changes had been made.

    It can no longer be charged that all the Justice Department is doing in that case is the kind of thing that section 5 was intended to allow the Justice Department to do. If you all insist on overturning Bossier Parish II, you run a substantial risk of having—excuse me—of overturning Bossier Parish II, you run a significant risk of having the new legislation, the reauthorized section 5, struck down as unconstitutional.

    In his opinion for the Court, in Bossier Parish II, Justice Scalia wrote, ''Such a reading would also exacerbate the substantial federalism concerns that the preclearance procedure already exacts, perhaps to the extent of raising concerns about section 5's constitutionality.''
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    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Clegg, are you about ready to wrap up?

    Mr. CLEGG. Yes, I am.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you.

    Mr. CLEGG. As a consequence, I think it would be a mistake——

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman from New York would like you to elaborate on that point.

    Mr. NADLER. Why would that raise a constitutionality issue on section 5, in your opinion?

    Mr. CLEGG. Because what the statute would then be doing would be to give the Justice Department authority not just to make a relatively technical determination of whether or not a change in the voting procedure was retrogressive, but to make it a determination, depending on whether you were overruling Bossier I or Bossier II, if that was—there was a section 2 violation, or that a change, while not retrogressive, wasn't, didn't go far enough to satisfy the Justice Department.

    Let me give you an example.

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    Mr. CHABOT. We can get into this in questioning. But if you would like to wrap up your testimony because we want to keep on track here.

    Mr. CLEGG. The only other point I was going to make, Mr. Chairman, was to give one example of an unhappy side effect of overturning the Bossier Parish decisions.

    If the Justice Department refused to preclear a change that actually diminished discrimination, but—and this I think responds in part to what Mr. Nadler was getting at—but it didn't go far enough, as far as the Justice Department was concerned, and the reason it didn't go further, according to the Justice Department, was because of some kind of discriminatory animus, the denial would freeze in place a procedure that was actually worse than what the jurisdiction was proposing to change to.

    It would be much better to allow the change to go into place and make matters better, and then if the Justice Department wanted to bring an additional section 2 lawsuit to try to make things even better than that, they would have that authority. That, I submit, is the better approach.

    Thank you.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Clegg follows:]

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[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman, Mr. Gray, you're recognized for 5 minutes. Thank you.


    Mr. GRAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Chairman Chabot and distinguished Committee Members, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to deliver this testimony before you today on the topic of the ongoing need for section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    Prior to my 67th birthday on July 20th, I had a senior moment that moved me to consider drafting a resolution for our organization the Alabama Democratic Conference, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And in looking at that draft resolution, I was concerned about and looking at the fact that the original act, passed with broad-based bipartisan support and biracial support of the Members of Congress and people of goodwill across America, who lobbied for that to happen, it recognized the fact that the Voting Rights Act contributed greatly to a new spirit of race relations and cooperation and political and civic affairs in this country and in our State.

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    And also, what I did, I drafted an op-ed piece that several State newspapers picked up, and we challenged governments around the State of Alabama to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, asking also to call for key provisions of the Voting Rights Act to be renewed in 2007.

    Today, I just brought for review one from Selma that I picked up, where it all began, the resolution from the Selma City Council, signed by the mayor and the members of the Selma City Council, and also one from the Jefferson County Commission, which is a biracial group, three Whites, two Blacks, three Republicans, two Democrats.

    I will see that this Committee receives copies of resolutions that local governments around the State of Alabama are passing in support of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act in 2007, so that you will see the record of evidence around the State of Alabama of jurisdictions who are in favor of the Voting Rights Act being renewed, particularly section 5.

    Recently, our organization held a convention celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and we called—one of the themes we had was a Marching Miracle Empowering a Powerless People. Indeed, the Voting Rights Act has allowed the State of Alabama to climb off the bottom in terms of racial representation and fairness.

    Forty years ago, Alabama had less than 12 Black elected officials. Today, we have more than 850, and we rank along with Mississippi, usually first and second, in terms of the number of Black elected officials in the Nation. So it is really important, you might say, to borrow a phrase from his novel, Light in August, it has been 40 years of ''peaceful astonishment.''
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    But we should not confuse the success with obsolescence. I have personally witnessed one of the most astonishing things about section 5 preclearance in terms of its ability to nudge public officials to act in a positive way and to be more than inclusive as they go about reaching a consensus in that decision-making process. Let me cite an example or two to make my point.

    Two months ago the Barbour County Commission was in the process of adopting a new redistricting plan. In the preclearance process, the Department of Justice discovered that the Barbour County Commission had never submitted some polling place changes, dating back to the early 1990's. This delay in submitting these changes in a timely fashion calls the Barbour County Commission to seek out help in getting these late submissions precleared.

    One commissioner, who called me recently, is a car salesman. I like his style. He said ''Jerome, buddy, can you help us?'' When I told him I would, he replied, ''Buddy, come see us.'' Without reservation, I can say that the Voting Rights Act, section 5, in particular, has made unlikely buddies of people who are ready, willing and able to communicate in a civil, democratic way as we engage in the process of representative government and full civic participation.

    As we work through this issue of redistricting in Barbour County, the Commission had originally drawn a seven-member plan with three majority Black districts, one of which had a White incumbent. In that district, the Commission's first instinct was to draw a plan that reduced the Black voting age population percentage by 8 percent. However, when I heard about their plan, I called the Barbour County Commission and told them I would fully support almost any plan they developed so long as it did not retrogress or dilute the Black vote in these majority Black districts.
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    At first they hemmed; then I hawed a little, using section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as my rabbit's foot. Soon thereafter they invited me to help them in developing a fair plan. But I had my role, and they had theirs from a distance; and I said to them, You all can do it; just send me a copy of your plan when you're done.

    Well, you know what? They did better than I expected. And true to my word, I wrote a strong letter of support to the Department of Justice asking to grant expedited consideration to the Barbour County redistricting plan in the preclearance process.

    For the record, I want to mention two more instances of how the threat of section 5—what I call the rabbit's foot—being used for good, has worked to get local governments to do the right thing.

    In the city of Lanette, Alabama, in Chambers County in 2004, I received a telephone call from a voter stating that the city clerk had been denying citizens the opportunity to pick up absentee ballot applications at city hall. Instead, the clerk was usurping her authority and taking the application forms to the voters' residences.

    I called the clerk and read her a section from the Alabama election law handbook. And I also indicated to her that she had no authority to deny giving absentee ballot forms to a citizen. I also told her that what she was doing amounted to a change in voting procedure that would have to be precleared by the Justice Department.

    In my own way, I persuaded her that we did not need anyone from the Department of Justice calling down to Alabama to tell us what was right to do. She obliged, and the election ran smoothly, and Lanette elected its first Black mayor in August of 2004.
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    In my hometown of Evergreen, Alabama, in Conecuh County, I received a similar call from a voter who complained about a clerk's failure to produce a complete and fair voters list. At first, many names were omitted including my 94-year-old mother, a retired educator.

    I called the clerk, and I got the former mayor on the phone, and I reminded him of the election fiasco we had in 1980 when the clerk at the time had prepared a sloppy voters list that omitted scores of Black voters from the official list. A Black candidate that we supported that year lost by four votes, and our organization, Democratic organization, NAACP, complained to the Department of Justice, and the Justice Department reviewed those complaints, found them to be legitimate, and for the next election sent down some Federal observers to monitor the election.

    In that case, with section 5's help, we found out that the Conecuh County Commission had changed its election system from single-member districts to at-large elections after 1965 and had not gotten them precleared. And we also learned that the county Democratic Executive Committee had changed its election procedure after the 1965 Voting Rights Act without submitting those changes for preclearance.

    At any rate, by reminding the clerk and the mayor about what had happened in 1980, they acquiesced and allowed for a fair voters list to be developed. The election went on without incident, and the city of Evergreen had the highest turnout in history, over 95 percent in 2004, and we elected our first Black mayor without a runoff. It was indeed ''peaceful astonishment.''
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    Although the issue of monitoring bad proposals such as changes in registration, voting or election procedures has decreased dramatically since 1982, there have been State laws harmful to minority participation that have received our attention. The worst one that I recall came about after a law was passed in 1998, where voters could not receive an absentee ballot at a post office box. That had not been precleared. We went into Federal court with a three-judge panel, and they struck that down as unconstitutional.

    Earlier in my remarks I compared section 5 to a rabbit's foot. I like that reference because it takes a little rabbit to make folks do right. Then I urge you to keep some rabbit provisions on the books. As a son of the South, I know that a little rabbit ain't going to hurt nobody. We are used to it by now.

    Section 5 is edible and digestible. We have made tremendous progress. But we still must work to protect Black voters, and section 5 makes that possible.

    Thank you.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much, Mr. Gray.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Gray follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. Before we get to the questioning round, let me just mention a couple of housekeeping things. We were scheduled to have another Voting Rights Act hearing tomorrow. Because of the going to Detroit for Rosa Park's services, we will not have that hearing; it will be next week. We have—at this point, we have two on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.

    I would also note that we have another hearing in this room at 4 o'clock, as well, so if we can keep it to one round of questions, in light of the number of hearings we will be having, perhaps that might be a reasonable thing to do. I appreciate that, because we will we have to clear the room and get set up for the next hearing as well.

    Mr. CHABOT. At this time, the gentleman from New York.

    Mr. NADLER. I would just point out that next Tuesday is Election Day. Although there are no Congressional elections, there are a number of elections in a number of States and cities, and some Members may have to participate in those or even go vote.

    Mr. CHABOT. If the gentleman would yield, I voted. I just went to the Board of Elections before I caught my flight here from Cincinnati and voted. I won't tell you how I voted, but I did vote.

    Mr. NADLER. You voted absentee ballot is how you voted.

    Mr. CHABOT. Yes, that is right. Okay.
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    I now recognize myself for 5 minutes for the purpose of asking questions. I will just direct this to the whole panel here. It is a couple of questions. You all to one degree or another already dealt with this issue, but one of the main things we are doing here is creating a record, because this may ultimately—there could be a lawsuit that could end up with the U.S. Supreme Court, and so we are trying to establish that record here.

    What does a weaker section 5 mean for minority voters, and what does it mean for covered jurisdictions? Is the purpose standard after Bossier II consistent with Congress' intent that the Voting Rights Act end, this country end racial discrimination in voting? I have 5 minutes, so about 1 minute apiece would about take up my time. Mr. Posner, we will begin with you and down the line.

    Mr. POSNER. Thank you, I think that a particular focus is appropriate on redistrictings. Of course, as you well know, redistricting is a key part of the election process, and certainly a very significant change that is reviewed under the Voting Rights Act.

    In the 1990's, as I referred to in my testimony, as well as the 1980's, a very large number of objections were interposed by the Justice Department to redistrictings. About 7 percent of the redistrictings were objected to, 8 percent in the 1980's and 1990's. After 2000 about 1 percent, about 30 redistrictings were objected to. So many fewer plans were objected to.

    Section 5 had much less power and authority to prevent discriminatory plans from going forward. That, of course, has a very, very real impact on the opportunity of minority voters to participate in the political process.
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    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. Ms. Wright.

    Ms. WRIGHT. The precedent that we had under section 5 for 35 years, prior to the Bossier Parish decision was really unbroken. In each case when the Court had an opportunity to consider it, the Court made it clear that regardless of retrogression, any racially discriminatory purpose that would violate the Constitution would also violate section 5.

    I think that standard has been very important. The Department has been applying it, was applying it for 35 years prior to the Bossier Parish decision. It was a critical part of the section 5 preclearance process, and as the numbers indicate, in looking at the changes in the numbers and kinds of objections since the Bossier Parish decision, has certainly had a dramatic impact. All of that, I think, really argues for the need to restore the intent test when Congress reauthorizes section 5.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you.

    Mr. Clegg.

    Mr. CLEGG. First of all, Mr. Chairman, I think you are exactly right that these hearings are very important, because there is likely to be a constitutional challenge on down the road. In fact, one of the things that I would encourage the Subcommittee to recommend to the full Committee is that there be full Committee hearings as well, not only on the issue that we are talking about today, but more generally on whether section 5 ought to be reauthorized and the other issues that I raised before.
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    You know, in terms of whether the Bossier Parish II decision was consistent with Congressional intent, as I said, I think that is really not the issue today. I mean, there's no point in the Subcommittee trying to figure out what this Subcommittee might have intended 40 years ago. What you all need to decide is whether—when the section 5 is reauthorized, if it is reauthorized—what the language should provide for then.

    In terms of what this means for, you know, minority voters, I think if you decide to overturn Bossier Parish II, the answer will depend on the whim of whoever is making the decision at the Justice Department. If you have somebody that thinks that there ought to be a maximization of influence districts, there will be one set of results. If you have somebody that thinks there ought to be a maximization of majority Black districts, you will get another set of results. I don't know that either one is—can be said beforehand to be—pro- or anti-minority.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. Mr. Gray.

    Mr. GRAY. I would like to discuss it in terms of a case we had, Dillard v. Crenshaw, where we sued a number of jurisdictions throughout Alabama, school boards, city councils and county commissions. We got the consent decrees in many of those cases, in that case, to go to, in those instances, single member districts. As a result, Blacks were elected to governing bodies as a result of that lawsuit.

    Unfortunately, in some of those localities, I would say probably three dozen or more, they did not get the consent decree codified. And the Federal judge in some of those instances, in order to correct the violation, he recommended that the number of districts be increased so that we would have a majority Black district. Since then, though, there has been a Supreme Court court case that says the judge can't do that.
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    So now we are stuck with the possibility of if we don't get legislation, State legislation to codify those, the content decrees that created those districts by increasing the number of seats, all of those places will be in jeopardy. But because before the lawsuit, the Dillard v. Crenshaw lawsuit, none of those places had Black representation. So if you use the Bossier II standard, all of those places where we did not have Black representation where the number of seats, members on the commission or county school board or city council were increased, we would stand to lose representation, all of those governing bodies, if the Bossier II standard is applied.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much, Mr. Gray. My time has expired.

    The gentleman from New York is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you. Let me ask Mr. Posner and Ms. Wright, with respect to redistricting, which is what we are talking about, to a large extent in this Bossier II, if Congress were to modify section 5 in response to Bossier II, what issues, if any, arising from Shaw v. Reno and its prodigy should we keep in mind? How does this affect it at all because Shaw v. Reno was a constitutionalized statutory decision?

    Mr. POSNER. Well, Shaw v. Reno, as well as the subsequent case of Miller, posed certain limitations on a jurisdiction's ability to be race conscious in conducting the redistrictings. However, the Court has also held that a justification for such race consciousness is to avoid either a section 2 or a section 5 violation. So if section 5 prohibits—well, section 5 does prohibit retrogression, and if section 5 again prohibits discriminatory purpose, that is completely consistent with the Shaw ruling.
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    Mr. NADLER. So it would change how a court would look at a case in light of Shaw?

    Mr. POSNER. It may change how the Court considers the justifications of the jurisdiction, but the jurisdiction even now, under the Constitution, can't act with a discriminatory purpose. So I think it would really just bring section 5 in conformance with the Constitution, in terms of prohibiting a discriminatory purpose as well as an effect.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you.

    Ms. Wright.

    Ms. WRIGHT. I think that's right. The Shaw v. Reno certainly did nothing to say that the traditional constitutional protections against intentional racial discrimination against minorities was somehow written out of the Constitution. So I don't see anything inconsistent at all between the idea of having an intent test, a meaningful intent test under section 5, and the proper observance of the limits that the court, that the Court indicated were required in Shaw v. Reno.

    I mean, I do understand that the Justice Department, after the 2000 census, developed some guidelines for jurisdictions on how the Department would take Shaw v. Reno into account and reconcile the concerns about race conscious redistricting that were there in Shaw v. Reno with the mandates of the Voting Rights Act. So this is not something that I think poses any apparent——
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    Mr. NADLER. You don't think this would change those guidelines or would, in effect, have to take another look at those guidelines?

    Ms. WRIGHT. No, I don't think so. I don't think so at all. I think they were written with the idea that the intent test is still part of section 5 probably.

    Mr. NADLER. Mr. Clegg and Mr. Gray, the same question.

    Mr. CLEGG. I think that there are other constitutional problems with overturning Bossier Parish II. You know, what I——

    Mr. NADLER. Well, can you address the question?

    Mr. CLEGG. Right. But I don't think that an inconsistency with Shaw v. Reno is one of the problems that I was talking with respect to overturning Bossier Parish II.

    I also think that where Shaw v. Reno does put limitations on what Congress can do and what the Justice Department can do, is if either section 2 or section 5 is being used to accomplish racial gerrymandering of the sort that the Supreme Court said was illegal in Shaw v. Reno.

    Mr. NADLER. That will be ineffective. That would be ineffective.
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    Mr. CLEGG. That will remain unconstitutional. And as long as section 5 and section 2 were not being interpreted or written in a way——

    Mr. NADLER. Okay. Thank you. Mr. Gray.

    Mr. GRAY. I don't think those two things are inconsistent. You can change Bossier without that happening.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you. Mr. Posner, I have time for just one more question, and Mr. Clegg.

    Mr. Clegg asserts that objections under section 5 are decided by low-level bureaucrats, I heard him say that in the Justice Department. I thought the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, which is—it is a position requiring confirmation by the Senate, has final authority over these issues. Do you think it's fair—well, is that a fair description, and court staff to review that?

    Mr. POSNER. Yes. The Department regulations require—the Attorney General has delegated his authority under section 5 to make decisions to the assistant attorney general, which, of course, is a presidential appointment confirmed by the Senate. Now the assistant attorney general, of course, can't investigate the 13,000 to 17,000 voting changes that are reviewed each year, the assistant attorney general has other responsibilities as well.

    So, naturally, just as in any other part of Government, these voting changes are reviewed by career officials, which I would say is actually beneficial, because these are career officials who are non-political, and I think that helps to ensure that the section 5 process is conducted in a non-political fashion. But ultimately, any decision to object has to be made by the assistant attorney general.
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    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. Clegg, you can respond as well since Mr. Nadler asked for a response.

    Mr. CLEGG. Well, I don't disagree with what Mr. Posner said, in so far as, I think he admits that, with thousands and thousands of these issues to review, as a practical matter the decisions frequently are made by low-level bureaucrats. I don't agree with Mr. Posner that just because somebody is not a political appointee doesn't mean that they don't have political views and prejudices.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman from Florida, the former Speaker of the House, Mr. Feeney, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. FEENEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Posner, while I ask a question of Mr. Clegg, I would like you to look at article I, section 4, clause 1, which I have outlined for you. I would ask you a question about that next.

    Mr. Clegg, one of the arguments that you make is an unhappy side effect of overturning the Bossier decision, is that we are likely to leave, in effect, an equally or more discriminatory procedure or process. But isn't it true, with respect to redistricting, at least since Baker v. Carr, after every census, jurisdictions are pretty much required, if they have single-member districts to redistrict.

    So, in fact, there is always a fall-back position that would require compliance with section 5, and you would not go back to a system that was equally or more discriminatory in redistricting situations.
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    Mr. CLEGG. You know, I am not sure I agree with that even in the narrow context of redistricting right after a census. You know, suppose that you had a——

    Mr. FEENEY. Well, Congress for example, the Supreme Court often requires the equivalent of zero deviation unless you have a darn good justification. You can't very well get away with keeping a plan for 20 years after a census comes out.

    Mr. CLEGG. I understand. But suppose that a jurisdiction decided to redistrict in a way that increased the number of majority-minority districts, but not enough to satisfy the Justice Department. The point I was making was that it was the Justice Department who would be better off—it would make more sense for the system to be that, in that circumstance, the improved system would be allowed to go forward—and if the Justice Department thought that the reason an even better system wasn't adopted was because of discriminatory intent they could bring a section 2 lawsuit.

    Mr. FEENEY. I am going to interrupt, because I have limited time. But the effect is virtually every jurisdiction has a fallback position so they would come into compliance every 10 years with section 5 if they are precleared, they have a commission or they have a court order. It gets bumped up to Federal Court, because eventually you have to have lines consistent with Baker v. Carr and consistent with the most recent redistricting.

    Mr. Posner, one of Mr. Clegg's, I think, important arguments because Scalia does raise it in his decision, is the federalism argument, that at least with respect to congressional redistricting, under article 1, section 4, clause 1, which I just asked you to look at, basically State legislators have been given by the Constitution directly, the ability to prescribe the times, place and matter for congressional redistricting. But the second clause says that Congress may, at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations. So hasn't the Constitution, in fact, expressly, given Congress the ultimate ability to determine the times, places and matters of Congressional redistricting?
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    Mr. POSNER. Yes, but I guess the concern with regard to section 5 is that typically, of course, State and local jurisdictions can adopt a voting change or any other law, and it's presumed legal, unless someone goes to court and obtains an injunction. Section 5 reverses that situation because voting changes are presumed unlawful until preclearance.

    Mr. FEENEY. I understand that Congress created section 5. The Constitution says any time we want we can take back the times, place and matter process for Congressional redistricting. So at least with respect to Congress, my view is that the federalism arguments actually are undermined by the express language of the Constitution.

    Mr. Posner, there is a law of statutory construction, which basically preassumes that Congress isn't frivolous. Now often in reality we are frivolous, but in certain language, there is a reason for it. To the extent that the Bossier II decision essentially makes the words or purpose superfluous, haven't the—didn't the decision sort of violate that fundamental rule of construction?

    In all likelihood, shouldn't the Court have assumed that Congress meant something by adding the words ''purpose'' in section 5?

    Mr. POSNER. Absolutely. Certainly the thrust of my testimony is that after the Bossier II decision, the purpose test essentially has been read out of the statute.

    Mr. FEENEY. Along those lines, Mr. Chairman, if I could have unanimous consent, your footnote 12, Mr. Posner, on page 4 of your testimony, cites a study by Peyton McCrary, Christopher Seaman & Richard Valley, ''The End of Preclearance as We Knew It.''
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    I think that would be important to submit for the record because what that study demonstrates is that the Court's decision has really neutered section 5, especially as it relates to redistricting preclearance. So I would ask unanimous consent that study be submitted as part of the record.

    Mr. CHABOT. Without objection, so ordered. The gentleman's time has expired.

    [The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman from Detroit—excuse me, the gentleman from Michigan, the distinguished Ranking Member of the Committee, Mr. Conyers, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciated the testimony of the witnesses. This is, to me, getting to one of the very most important decisions that we will be making in reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I just wanted to thank Mr. Clegg, counsel, for your candor, because you have come out—and we don't have time for it. But you really feel that the Voting Rights Act might be better off being reconsidered entirely, whether we should go forward with it.

    That being the case, you are the first witness that has taken a position that extreme. I wasn't prepared for that. Your testimony was pretty limited on the subject that brought us here. But since you mentioned it, I wanted to let you know that I had listened to your testimony carefully.
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    Now, the problem that we are wrestling with here is whether there is a constitutional basis for turning Bossier II back, which said that the Justice Department was essentially powerless to block intentionally discriminatory voting changes, unless it found the jurisdiction acted with the retrogressive purpose of making things worse than they already were for minority voters. Is that essentially the issue, Mr. Posner, that brings us here today?

    Mr. POSNER. Well, that is certainly one of the issues, or at least an issue that Justice Scalia raised in Bossier. It was a very perplexing statement by him in the Bossier Parish II decision since discriminatory purpose is always considered the core prohibition of the 14th and 15th amendments. So to just then turn around and say that having section 5 prohibit discriminatory purpose, that would somehow threaten or question the constitutionality of section 5, is just very hard to figure out.

    Mr. CONYERS. Well, what constitutional considerations do we need to take in—as we go about making this consideration—I mean, this whole hearing really is, are we going to leave Bossier II like it is and continue this construction of preclearance, or are we going to turn it back the way it was for several decades prior? Is that a simplification, but correct interpretation of what we are doing here today in our discussions and hearings.

    Mr. POSNER. Yes. I think there's a question of whether section 5 or not, whether the section 5 nondiscrimination standard is going to have some real authority and power to it, and what it did, what existed prior to the Bossier II decision.
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    Mr. CONYERS. Wouldn't we, Attorney Wright, be—well, I don't know how we could come out of a 2005 hearing going through section 5, again, and leaving Bossier untouched.

    Ms. WRIGHT. I agree. I would like to speak to the question of Congressional power and authority that has been raised. I think that it, if anything, is clear, it's that Congressional power is at its zenith when Congress is addressing the problem of intentional racial discrimination. That is at the core of the 14th amendment, it's at the core of the 15th amendment, and it's really difficult to imagine any other area where Congress would have more plenary authority to take important prophylactic measures such as section 5 has proven to be, to assure that kind of discrimination does not affect the electoral process.

    Mr. CONYERS. Are there any concerns, finally, that we might want to take into consideration that we want to be careful about? Because this is restorative. We are not adding anything when we look at Bossier. We are just turning it back to the way it had been.

    Mr. POSNER. Well, I think the one concern that I mentioned in my testimony, is that the Supreme Court, or at least the then five-Justice majority of the Court, expressed real concern about the manner in which the purpose test was being implemented by the Justice Department. I mean, I disagree with their appraisal, but nonetheless, I think that this offers Congress the opportunity as part of reversing Bossier II then—to provide some advice and guidance to the Justice Department and the District Court for the District of Columbia as to the proper manner in which the purpose test should be applied.
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    In doing that, Congress would really be following the path that it followed back in 1982 when Mobile v. Bolden was then the case which Congress was seeking to legislatively reverse, and Congress decided that not only should the statute specifically go back to the standard that existed prior to Mobile, but that it was necessary to, in the legislative history, as well as in the statute, to provide guidance as to how this test should be implemented.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Posner.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Chairman, I want to follow up on what the gentleman from Florida said in terms of redistricting plans. If you have an illegal plan that is being rejected, you could end up with a plan. You have to change because of one man, one vote and an injunction could easily be obtained very cheaply if a State tried to proceed on, within a 10-year cycle without a redistricting plan.

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    So if you are caught with an illegal plan and try to get something precleared, that may be better, but still illegal. It just seems to me that section 5 is the most convenient place to do it. Now, Mr. Clegg, you have suggested that changing it that way would subject section 5 to constitutional challenge.

    Mr. Clegg, could you give us a few Supreme Court cases that we could review that would help us understand your decision—position. You don't have to do it now.

    Mr. CLEGG. I am happy to address that. I think there may be two different issues here though that we are talking about. The fallback question with respect to a redistricting after census, is whether the—what I am assuming is, that there is a situation where the fallback may be worse than what the jurisdiction has proposed going forward with, but that is not as good as what the Justice Department would imply.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. You can't fall back. Once you have submitted something, you have to have something. If the fallback is going to be worse, that is not going to be precleared either. So you cannot go forward with any plan. The court is going to come in and draw the plan for you for the next election. You are not going to be able to go backwards. But in terms of the Constitutional challenge, could you provide us with cases that would help us understand your position?

    Mr. CLEGG. Well, I think if I understood your question correctly, Representative Scott, what I am raising as a constitutional problem, and what I think Justice Scalia was talking about in Bossier Parish II, was giving the Justice Department unilateral authority to block a voting practice or procedure that was not retrogressive.
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    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Could you give us cases to help us on that? Names of cases. If you could submit those, I would appreciate it.

    Mr. CLEGG. Sure. I am happy to do that. What I am going to do is take the cases and the passage from Bossier Parish II.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Okay. If that is your answer, that is fine. Mr. Gray, you had been involved in campaigns for a long time?

    Mr. GRAY. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. And helping people get elected?

    Mr. GRAY. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Is there value in incumbency. Does an incumbent have a better shot at getting elected?

    Mr. GRAY. Very much so.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Okay. You have been involved in section 5 cases?

    Mr. GRAY. Yes.
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    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Have you ever been involved in a section 2 case?

    Mr. GRAY. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. What is the relative expense in a—is a section 5 more or—cheaper or more expensive than in a section 2.

    Mr. GRAY. Less costly, and you can fix the problem much quicker.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. If you had to wait for section 2, what kinds of costs are you talking about?

    Mr. GRAY. Many times, thousands of dollars. You are talking about small jurisdictions and many times poor plaintiffs may be impacted negatively. Many of them wouldn't be able to launch the lawsuit any way.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. But they would be protected if they tried—if someone tried to impose an illegal plan on a section 5.

    Mr. GRAY. Absolutely.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. They could fight it.
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    Mr. GRAY. That's correct.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. But are unable to fight it if they are relegated to section 2?

    Mr. GRAY. Absolutely, that's correct.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. And we don't go to—the fact that if you don't fix Bossier II, the fact that there's an underlying section 2 violation to begin with shows you that the community didn't have the resources to fix it under section 2. They have an opportunity under section 5, and they ought to fix it. Now you have negotiated, obviously, redistricting plans?

    Mr. GRAY. Many.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. If you don't fix it, and you have an area that never had any representation at all, and a fair analysis suggests that it ought to be three, majority-minority seats, if you have section 5, you can negotiate for 3.

    Mr. GRAY. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. If you don't have section 5 the way we would like it to be, with Bossier II, you might get stuck with 1 or 2 as the best you could do under negotiations, is that true?
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    Mr. GRAY. Right, or sometimes nothing.

    Mr. SCOTT OF VIRGINIA. Because nothing is no worse than you started off with.

    Mr. GRAY. That's correct.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Clegg, I have heard everything you said, and I understand, I am just trying to figure out how we get past this. One of the concerns you raised, I think, was that you have a Justice Department, which is a bureaucracy, making a factual determination or a determination, which theoretically could be a concern.

    The problem is that it's the jurisdiction that is submitting the plan for preclearance that selects the venue to which it submits it. It can either submit it to the Justice Department for preclearance or it can submit it to a three-judge court in the District of Columbia.

    Would it help address your concern if it were a three-judge—I mean, does that part of your concern go away with a plan that is submitted to a three-judge court that has the authority to make a factual determination, or you are still equally troubled by that?
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    I mean, I can understand how you might be troubled by having a bureaucracy make a decision. Does that help your concern at all, or does it not?

    Mr. CLEGG. It does help. I think it is certainly less problematic.

    Mr. WATT. It is the jurisdiction that is seeking to implement the new plan that has that choice. They can have a factual determination by a court if they want to, right?

    Mr. CLEGG. That is true, although, you know, I think that for the same reasons that my co-panelist was talking about, it's probably a lot more expensive and slower and more difficult to go the District Court route than the Justice Department route.

    Mr. WATT. You would rather that additional cost and position be on the individual citizen as opposed to the State or jurisdiction?

    Mr. CLEGG. I am not saying that the additional costs should not necessarily be on either one.

    Mr. WATT. You would rather leave things as they are?

    Mr. CLEGG. No. But I think what the—that the focus should be on whether or not there is, in fact, a purposeful discrimination. If you——
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    Mr. WATT. But that is—I am sitting here reading the 15th amendment, section 1 says ''the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.''

    Section 2 says that Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Now, I can't imagine that you could be submitting to us that a local jurisdiction makes an intentional decision to discriminate on the basis of race, and that decision should go forward in the face of the clear language of the 15th amendment.

    Mr. CLEGG. No, I——

    Mr. WATT. So how would you—let's just put aside the more difficult cases where you are making judgments about the extent of the discrimination, but let's just assume the basic case, as it was in Bossier, where the evidence was we intended not to have minority representation, we intended to abridge the vote of Black people. How would you address that without just allowing it to go forward, the system gets put in place, you got to have a vote before you can have a trial under section 2. Tell me how you had address that in your world. I guess that's the question I am asking. I am just perplexed.

    I understand the concern you are raising, but I don't understand how you would address that in a United States of America where Black people and White people both are trying to vote. I just don't understand how you would address it. Tell us how to address it. I mean, that is what these purposes, these hearings are about, to try to come up with some constructive means of making our democracy work. Tell us how you would address that.
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    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired, but the gentleman can respond to the question.

    Mr. CLEGG. All right. Well, I think there are a number of questions in there. Let me go through them as best I can.

    First of all, Congressman Watt, before I forget the thought, the other problem that I have with your suggestion that there's really no—there shouldn't be any objection to the jurisdiction simply aside from going to court—is that under section 5, even if it goes to court, there is still this—the burden of proof in a quite extraordinary way, is shifted to the jurisdiction. In other words, they have to go into court and prove——

    Mr. WATT. The burden of proof in Bossier Parish was they came in and said we intended to do this. Are you saying that they ought to be allowed to do that?

    Mr. CLEGG. No. So the first point I would make is that although I have fewer problems if the decisionmaker is a court, the Supreme Court itself has said that the burden shifting provisions in section 5, and those apply to court hearings, as well as to, you know, going through the Justice Department, are part of what raises these federalism concerns that I was alluding to.

    Mr. WATT. Federalism concerns are more dramatic than the express provisions of the 15th amendment?
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    Mr. CLEGG. Well, again, Congressman, your assumption is that because the Justice Department thinks——

    Mr. WATT. Oh no, I am talking about the three-judge court. I gave you that out.

    Mr. CLEGG. Look. I think if you had a—and are you also giving me the out that there is also no longer any burden shifting?

    Mr. WATT. No.

    Mr. CLEGG. Because if you do that, then it is starting to look a lot like a section 2 lawsuit.

    Mr. WATT. So they got it pretty clear, I mean, if you got to have the—but you got to have a disposition quickly. I guess that is why I kept asking what is your solution to this. You need a quick disposition so the election can go forward. You don't want people to intentionally discriminate. You want a decision quick. You want to not have the extra expense. You know, it seems to me that what Congress did was set up a system to accommodate all of those things, and you seem to be advocating for a different system, and I keep wondering what that system is.

    Mr. CLEGG. Believe me, I will look into that, and I appreciate the opportunity. Let me also say though, particularly with respect to Bossier Parish—you know, I did not litigate the case. But it says here that the court, the lower court in that case, concluded that there was no evidence of discriminatory but nonretrogressive purpose.
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    So I questioned, you know, the factual premise there. But there could be situations where there was such a finding. I don't dispute that.

    All right, now, your $64,000 question, what would I do? I would continue to have a Voting Rights Act. I am not that radical. Many of the provisions about having examiners and poll watchers and that sort of thing make perfect sense and ought to be continued—you know, no literacy tests and a lot of those things in section 4.

    I think that we ought to have a second section 2, but I would change section 2, so that it tracks the language that you so eloquently read from the 15th amendment, so that it is prohibiting the kinds of racial discrimination that are prohibited by the 15th amendment, but not pushing jurisdictions to racially gerrymander, which is unfortunately what I think what the results test does.

    Then, in terms of section 5, I think that there should be full hearings before the full Committee. You all should ask a couple of questions. Number 1, should the way that covered jurisdictions are defined——

    Mr. WATT. But before you go there, you finally worked your way into the same position, I think, that Mr. Posner was.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has long since expired. But could he be brief?

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    Mr. WATT. All right. I just wanted him to know that he was surprisingly close to Mr. Posner by the time he got through with that part of his presentation. I didn't mean to interrupt him.

    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Clegg, have you had an opportunity to finish your thought?

    Mr. CLEGG. It think the only other thing I would say, Mr. Chairman, is I would make sure that the covered jurisdictions are accurately described, because I think that what—the jurisdictions that it made sense to cover 40 years ago may not be if same jurisdictions that ought to be covered now. I would use a purpose test rather than an effects test for section 5 as well.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. I would ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from Georgia be extended 5 minutes to ask questions. Hearing no objection, the gentleman has 5 minutes.

    Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. Thank you very much.

    Mr. Chairman, again I appreciate your kindness and generosity in allowing me to ask questions and participate on the question.

    I think, Mr. Clegg, you have laid bare, I think, the seriousness of the challenge to this Voting Rights Act. Prior to your testimony, I did not really realize how in jeopardy the Voting Rights Act is. I think that it's very important for us to use this hearing to set as much of a record as we can to your basic argument on the constitutionality of this. I think that Bossier is indeed like a cancer, eating away at the Voting Rights Act.
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    Would you not agree that the best argument for us going forward is to go directly to the 15th amendment and to illustrate point by point just how Bossier has acted to deny and abridge an individual's right to vote based upon race, based upon background, servitude, as so eloquently stated by my colleague, Mr. Watt from North Carolina?

    Mr. CLEGG. That is absolutely right.

    Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. With that in mind, could I not go to you, Ms. Wright, and to you, Mr. Posner and to you,

    Mr. Gray, and take the remaining moments that I have, of trying to get on record directly examples of how this does, in fact, abridge an act against the 15th amendment?

    One point, if I may add to that, just to start us off is, is this not true that prior to Bossier, the Justice Department objected to about 8 to 9 percent of the cases that came before them? Since Bossier, they have objected to only 1 percent. I think that is some damaging evidence in itself.

    But if I could just allow the rest of my time,

    Mr. Chairman, if Ms. Wright and Mr. Posner and Mr. Gray could give us some specific examples of how this, indeed, could violate the 15th amendment.

    Ms. WRIGHT. Well, I think that probably the most vivid example was the one that I gave during my testimony of the impact this decision would have had if it had been in effect in the 1980 on the creation of Congressman Lewis' district.
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    Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. Of Georgia?

    Ms. WRIGHT. Yes. Where there was outright evidence that the head of the redistricting committee was routinely describing African-Americans in his State using racial epithets and declaring that he would never create such a district.

    Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. I might add that I was there as a member of the Georgia legislature when that happened. You are absolutely correct.

    Ms. WRIGHT. You have insight to this. I would also add is very important, the misconception that has been put forward here if you have an intent that is being administered by the Justice Department, that is somehow a standardless test, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The standards for examining whether a change is intentionally discriminatory are very well established. You follow the set of factors that is listed in the case of Arlington Heights in 1977, the Supreme Court decision, which has a set of factors that you look at, including the impact of the decision on racial minorities, the sequence of events leading up to the decision to enact the change, the degree to which the jurisdiction departed from normal procedures in the course of its decisionmaking and a variety of other factors that are very well established and which the Justice Department used very successfully for 35 years routinely to examine these kinds of changes, and only objected in a very small percentage of the overall number of submissions that came to the Justice Department.

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    But in those cases where the Justice Department did object, the preclearance requirement and the intents standard played an absolutely crucial role in bringing us to where we are today, which is a lot of progress compared to where we were 40 years ago.

    Mr. SCOTT OF GEORGIA. Mr. Posner.

    Mr. POSNER. As I indicated in my written testimony, the purpose test first began to be enforced under section 5 with real vigor when Assistant Attorney General Reynolds was in charge of the Civil Rights Division. It first began with objections to about 25 redistrictings based upon discriminatory purpose, 25 redistrictings by county governing boards in Mississippi.

    Often the situation that existed with regard to the redistrictings that were objected to was that the Black population was concentrated in one city located more or less in the center of the county. And the plan that was submitted by the county board of supervisors, what it did was draw each district into that city, so that you had five districts weaving their way into the Black population located in that city, fragmenting that Black population among the four, five districts, thereby significantly minimizing the opportunity of Black voters to elect candidates by choice, in fact, preventing Black voters in counties with significant Black populations from electing any member of the county board of supervisor, county board of supervisors.

    As a result of these objections, these purpose objections by the Justice Department, the county, of course, couldn't then go back to the old plan as was indicated. The county had to adopt a new redistricting plan, and that was mandated by one person, one vote. The county adopted new plans that did not fragment Black population in this manner, and thereby giving Black voters significant opportunities to elect candidates of their choice onto the boards of supervisors.
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    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Gray, I think you were asked to respond. Would you like to respond?

    Mr. GRAY. Yes. I do not see making sense for discriminatory intent to be allowed in any instance, but in one county in Alabama that was part of that redistricting loss, Chilton County, where they had agreed to a cumulative vote system that with seven seats on the council, and on the county commission and on the county school board, on the county commission they have had add least three or four voting cycles using cumulative voting. That system was challenged by some plaintiffs in the county.

    Now what they are asking to do is to go back to what they had prior to the lawsuit, where we were able to get a Black member elected to the Chilton County Commission using cumulative voting. If we apply the Bossier standard, if you go back to what they had prior to the lawsuit, there would be no opportunity for Blacks to have representation because the Black percentage in the county is not high enough to create districts with, say, four or five seats, which they had four or five members, which they had prior to the lawsuit.

    So Blacks will be shut out. If you said the standard that they would be allowed to use, would be what they had prior to the lawsuit, then Blacks in Chilton County would never have representation on the county commission.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. FEENEY. Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I might request unanimous consent for 1 minute to ask a question.
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    Mr. CHABOT. Without objection.

    Mr. FEENEY. Thank you. This really goes to anybody. I argued earlier that Congress, at least intentionally, shouldn't act with frivolity, but I am going to go ahead and just do that. I have been trying to build a record, I think, with most of my colleagues here—and by the way, Mr. Chairman, it doesn't feel that bad being outnumbered on a partisan basis. We have for most of these hearings, at least on this issue.

    But to be frivolous for a few seconds, if you have a few minutes, Mr. Posner, you served with Chief Justice Roberts in the Justice Department. He probably has at least a passing familiarity with the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

    I just wanted to know whether Mr. Posner or anybody else, something beyond superstition or a hunch, had any guesses as to where Chief Justice Roberts or potential Justice Alito comes down on the constitutional issues. We have got three Justices that believe in equal protection or federalism are implicated, that being Thomas, Scalia and the now-deceased Rehnquist. We have had Kennedy sort of align, for the most part, with those Justices, and O'Connor has always been a court of one for the last 10, 15 years on these issues.

    Does anybody have any guess for us that they want to make based on some sort of evidence. Mr. Posner, I would love to here what, if anything, you are willing to tell us.

    Mr. POSNER. Well, the Chief Justice was serving in a different part of the Department than I was. So I didn't have any personal contact with him when he was a member of the Department.
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    It is very difficult to guess. He has indicated that he has great respect for stare decisis, that he believes in that principle and the importance of that principle. The Supreme Court has, on at least two occasions, upheld the constitutionality of section 5. The Court was well aware of the federalism issue, but thought that the 15th amendment issue, the 15th amendment concerns in terms of the right to vote, as well as the record that Congress established in terms of justifying section 5, meant that that section 5 should be upheld as being constitutional.

    So I think we go back to the record that Congress is trying to establish. I think that is critical in showing that there is a continuing need for section 5. But predicting a vote is, of course, a very difficult thing to do.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. Anyone else want to weigh in on that?

    Ms. WRIGHT. I also would be reluctant to speculate about the vote of an individual Justice, but would emphasize but no matter who is on the Court, it certainly is of the most critical importance of this Committee to do as thorough a job as possible in examining what the Voting Rights Act has accomplished in the covered jurisdictions, what the continuing problems are, what the likely effect would be, if its protections were removed.

    I think we have already gone a long way toward doing that in some of the testimony that I have seen so far in some of these hearings. But there is certainly a lot more that can and should be done to document the record of discrimination and voting rights enforcement in the covered jurisdictions. That is critically important no matter who is on the Court.
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    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. Anybody else? Mr. Clegg.

    Mr. CLEGG. I agree that there are going to be at least five Justices who are going to be very sensitive to these federalism concerns and to wanting to make sure that the Congress is acting pursuant to its enumerated powers. So however you think you are going to come down, you need to be careful and have the full hearings. I think also, you know, come into them with, you know, an open mind, not with a verdict first, trial afterwards-type mind set, this is a matter of policy, doesn't make sense to keep the statute in exactly the same defining—covered jurisdictions in exactly the same day.

    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Gray, do you want to gaze into the crystal ball here?

    Mr. GRAY. No. I am not going to venture on that one.

    Mr. CHABOT. At least you won't be wrong. Okay.

    Thank you very much. I want to thank the whole panel for their very excellent testimony here this afternoon.

    I want to, once again, mention that we need to clear this room as expeditiously as possible, because we do have a hearing starting in 6 minutes on an entirely different issue here.

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    If there's no further business to come before the Committee, we are adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 3:50 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]


Material Submitted for the Hearing Record


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PEYTON MCCRARY, ET AL., ''The End of Preclearance As We Knew It: How the Supreme Court Transformed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act''

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RENO V. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD (520 U.S. 471, 117 S.Ct. 1491)

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