Rice political scientist available to comment on limitation of federal oversight of Voting Rights Act
HOUSTON — (June 25, 2013) — Following a deeply divided Supreme Court limiting the groundbreaking Voting Rights Act of 1965, Rice University political scientist Robert Stein is available to discuss the decision’s implications.
“The court’s decision struck down the preclearance requirement, now making the burden of proof harder for those challenging laws they believe are discriminatory,” said Stein, the Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science and a fellow in urban politics at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Advocates of voting rights for African-American and Latino voters still have Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act on which to challenge state and local laws and practices that might ‘discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups;’ however, this section protects only against laws and practices that are in place, not those being considered for adoption and implementation.”
Stein said it is possible that the consequences of this decision will lessen minority representation by ceasing to concentrate minority voters in single-member districts to elect minority candidates. If so, he said, the result will be the dispersion of minority voters in otherwise nonminority districts represented by Anglo officeholders.
“Given the increasing size and portion of the electorate that is non-Anglo, this ‘dispersion’ of minority voters might give minority voters greater influence in the selection of Anglo and otherwise Republican officeholders,” Stein said.
Stein is an expert on voting behavior, urban politics and public policy; his publications have appeared in a wide range of scholarly journals. Stein’s current research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and examines the impact of the federal aid system on the electoral trajectories of officeholders at both the subnational and congressional levels. Other research examines collective action among metropolitan area governments and voting behavior.
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Robert Stein biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/rstein/
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