Private citizens not allowed to sue under Voting Rights Act, court rules

by ian

A federal appeals court has dealt a blow to the Voting Rights Act.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that private entities, including citizens and civil rights groups, cannot bring lawsuits under section two of the law. Only the U.S. government can bring legal challenges, according to the court.

The ruling stems from an Arkansas redistricting case brought by a civil rights group. It upends decades of legal precedent recognized by the Supreme Court. For years now, most cases under the Voting Rights Act have been brought by private plaintiffs, largely due to the Justice Department’s limited resources for voting cases.

Yesterday’s ruling will likely be appealed, setting up a showdown in the Supreme Court.