8th Circuit Court Ruling Alters Voting Rights Act Interpretation

The majority ruled that private parties cannot sue under the act, only the federal government.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that only the U.S. government and not private parties could sue using the Voting Rights Act, an interpretation that could upend decades of legal precedence. 

Private parties make up the majority of lawsuits filed under the Voting Rights Act, especially civil rights groups challenging congressional maps and measures within voting ballots. Multiple Supreme Court cases and hundreds of federal cases have upheld private party suits under the Voting Rights Act since it was first enacted in 1965.

The majority of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the text of the Voting Rights Act does not actually lay out a way for private parties to sue using the act. “Assuming their existence, and even discussing them, is different from actually deciding that a private right of action exists,” said Circuit Judge David Stras in his opinion for the majority.

It is likely this case will be appealed to the Supreme Court.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the justices of the Supreme Court as they consider which appeals to hear and decide.
  • For judges in the Circuit Courts of Appeal as they rule on cases that present challenges to existing laws or the Constitution.

Sources: Reuters, Politico

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