The legal dispute is focused on who is allowed to sue to try to enforce key provisions under Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law, which was first passed in 1965.

Private individuals and groups, who did not represent the U.S. government, have for decades brought the majority of Section 2 cases to court. Those cases have challenged the redrawing of voting maps and other steps in the elections process with claims that the voting power of people of color has been minimized.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, ruled in February 2022, however, that only the head of the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney general, can bring Section 2 lawsuits and dismissed an Arkansas redistricting case brought by advocacy groups representing Black voters in the state.

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    The new ruling in an Arkansas redistricting lawsuit may set up the next U.S. Supreme Court fight that could further limit the reach of the Voting Rights Act’s protections for people of color.

    The legal dispute is focused on who is allowed to sue to try to enforce key provisions under Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law, which was first passed in 1965.

    U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, ruled in February 2022, however, that only the head of the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney general, can bring Section 2 lawsuits and dismissed an Arkansas redistricting case brought by advocacy groups representing Black voters in the state.

    "Until the [Supreme] Court rules or Congress amends the statute, I would follow existing precedent that permits citizens to seek a judicial remedy.

    Rights so foundational to self-government and citizenship should not depend solely on the discretion or availability of the government’s agents for protection," Smith wrote.

    Attorneys for the Arkansas State Conference NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel have said they’re prepared to use another route for continuing this lawsuit under a federal statute known as Section 1983, which allows people to sue state government officials when their civil rights under federal law are violated.


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