The Justice Department will be severely limited in how it is able to address concerns of voter intimidation in the upcoming presidential election thanks to a three-year-old Supreme Court ruling, The New York Times reports:
Since 1965, federal officials have sent about 32,000 observers to jurisdictions with histories of harassing minority voters or even outright denying them access to the ballot. But officials say their hands are now tied by a 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As a result of that decision, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Justice Department will send observers only to jurisdictions where it already has court approval. That encompasses seven counties or jurisdictions in Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New York. [The New York Times]
By comparison, in 2012 observers were sent to jurisdictions across 13 states. "We do not want to be in the position we're in," said Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights official at the Justice Department. Election monitors will still be posted outside polling places in 25 states, but they will not be the experts normally allowed inside.
Fears of voter intimidation have spiked after Donald Trump called for his supporters to "go out and watch" the polls. "I'll look for ... well, it's called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can't speak American," one Trump supporter recently told The Boston Globe.