WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will take up a case from Alabama next week to decide whether to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark measure that made voting a reality for blacks in the South and won extension by a near-unanimous vote from Congress in 2006.
Critics on the right agree the law was a success, but they contend it is now outdated and unfair to the South. They also say it is used mostly as a way to force states to draw electoral districts that favor black or Latino candidates.
But liberal legal scholars have urged the justices to step back and pay attention to the history of the Reconstruction era. They are pointedly addressing the conservatives, led by Justice Antonin Scalia, who say the court should follow the actual words and original understanding of the Constitution.
The 15th Amendment, added in 1870, says the right to vote “shall not be abridged or denied … on account of race” and “Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”