Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Guts Even More of the Voting Rights Act Affecting Seven States

A panel of judges in a federal appeals court said Monday that only the federal government — not citizens and groups — can sue under a key part of the Voting Rights Act, effectively gutting the legislation in seven states.

The ruling, which applies to Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, found that only the U.S. attorney general is able to bring a suit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The vast majority of Voting Rights Act claims are brought by private citizens and civil rights groups, who foot the bill for time-consuming litigation to protect voting rights. The Department of Justice, with limited staff and resources, typically brings just a small fraction of the cases fought nationally.

More than likely, the case will escalate to the Extreme Court where they will uphold the Appellate Court’s ruling or if they don’t, they might issue a caveat like Beer Boi Brett did in Allen v. Milligan, 599 U. S. 1 (2023) (redistricting maps) in which he stated, “…that even if Congress in 1982 could constitutionally authorized race-based redistricting under §2 for some period of time, the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely in the future.” The ‘future’ may be upon us quicker than we thought or liked to have seen.

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