And the bailouts begin.
No, nobody is trying to save the banks this time. Rather, Kings Mountain, N.C.--population 11,000--today apparently became the first local government to ask for an exemption from the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in June.
According to King’s Mountain attorney J. Gerald Hebert, a Justice Department official informed him that the town was the first to seek a bailout, as the exemptions are called, in the wake of Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder. Hebert said he has roughly a half-dozen more clients from around the country that are interested in bailouts, but have yet to file.
Section 5 of the Voting Right Act requires designated voting districts with a history of racial discrimination to seek approval from the Justice Department before changing any of their voting procedures or election laws. In its June 22 ruling, the Supreme Court held that any political subdivision, whether or not it actually registered voters, could seek to get off the list of covered jurisdictions
Hebert, a solo practitioner in Alexandria, Va., and a former Voting Rights Section attorney at the Justice Department, has represented the 17 jurisdictions that bailed out before the Court’s ruling. All of those jurisdictions were in Virginia.
The Justice Department did not return a call for comment.