OPEN: A court recent ruling recently could deliver a death blow to the Voting Rights Act – a law that has protected Black Americans’ political power the voting rights of minority communities for six decades./////A federal appeals court issued a ruling last month on an Arkansas redistricting case that could drastically weaken the Voting Rights Act, a law that has protected minority communities’ political power for almost six decades. ALT: A recent court ruling could make it harder for people to challenge state’s racially discriminatory voting practices. ALT : The Voting Rights Act has been the single most …. but a recent court ruling could ALT: As voting rights have become a flash issue, a recent court ruling in Arkansas could….. The ruling by the 8th Circuit appeals court, which is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, would effectively bar private citizens and civil rights groups from suing under section 2 of the law. To understand that, we need to take a quick look back at the law itself… Background on the Voting Rights Act The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965, and was one of the most significant achievements of the civil rights movement. The law rolled back discriminatory Jim Crow laws that were meant to disenfranchise minority communities. Since then, it has evolved, and it’s been under attack almost since it was passed. Why Section 2 is so important This latest ruling affects Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows private citizens (and civil rights groups) to fight racially discriminatory voting practices by states. Over the years, dozens of lawsuits have used Section 2 to challenge heavily gerrymandered redistricting maps. But in 2021, when voters in Pulaski County, Arkansas challenged a redistricting that diluted the voting power of Black voters Judge Rudofsky, a Trump-appointed federal judge, ruled that “only the attorney general of the United States may bring suit” to enforce Section 2. That decision, which has since been upheld by the 8th Circuit Court, takes the power to file lawsuits to enforce the Voting Rights Act away from individual voters. Legal experts and commentators say this is a very unusual interpretation of the Voting Rights Act. In his dissent, Chief Circuit Judge Lavenski Smith noted that at least 182 successful Section 2 cases have been brought in the past 40 years, only 15 of which were brought solely by the US Justice Department./// Over the past 40 years, more than 90 percent of successful Section 2 cases were brought by individuals or civil rights organizations///Over the past four decades, fewer than 10 percent of successful section 2 cases were brought by the US DOJ The Arkansas ruling is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court. [Several legal experts I spoke with said tktktkt] But for now, it only affects/applies to states in the 8th Circuit’s jurisdiction — Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Could it impact any of these states in a way with national resonance? Whether or not the Supreme Court upholds this Eighth Circuit ruling, we’re almost certain to see other challenges to voting rights in the coming months.