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Voting Rights Act: Are Its Provisions Applicable to the Judiciary?

NCJ Number
118961
Journal
State Court Journal Volume: 13 Issue: 3 Dated: (Summer 1989) Pages: 24-28
Author(s)
D K Knoebel
Date Published
1989
Length
5 pages
Annotation
This article examines how elected judges could be affected by Federal court decisions affirming that they are representatives and therefore fall under provisions of the Federal Voting Rights Act.
Abstract
One of the purposes of the Voting Rights Act is to outlaw any discriminatory election schemes that permit a bloc voting majority, over a substantial time period, consistently to defeat minority candidates or candidates identified with the interests of a racial or language minority. In determining whether judicial elections come under the Voting Rights Act, the courts have focused on whether elected judges are "representatives" of the people. Federal court decisions have affirmed that judges are representatives and fall under provisions of the Voting Rights Act. One way to address allegations of discrimination in judicial elections under the Voting Rights Act is to redistrict existing judicial election boundaries. This could dissolve existing judgeships, impact judicial residency requirements, remove the focus from caseload as a determinant of districting, and undermine the current thrust toward centralizing court administration. Another alternative is to move to merit selection, but this may be viewed as a move to further disenfranchise minority voters' rights. In some States, such a move would have to be cleared under the Voting Rights Act. 14 notes.

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