Congress Strengthens The Voting Rights Act

1982

Renewing its commitment to voting rights for another twenty-five years, Congress extends the authority of the Justice Department to review legislative redistricting in some southern states. In Mobile v. Bolden (1980), the Supreme Court rejects a class action suit by African Americans who argue that electing the Mobile, Alabama, city council on an at-large basis — meaning that council members were elected by the city population as a whole rather than in neighborhood-based districts — dilutes the black vote. The Court finds that at large elections are racially neutral. In response to this ruling, Congress amends the Voting Rights Act to permit a finding of racial discrimination without proof that the state specifically intends to discriminate.