Litigation Concerning Section 5

About Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act banner

Several types of lawsuits involve Section 5 issues. The Attorney General or private plaintiffs may bring a Section 5 enforcement action against a covered jurisdiction to obtain an injunction against the use of a change affecting voting that has not been reviewed under Section 5. These cases are brought in the appropriate United States District Court in which the Section 5 violation is alleged to occur. Covered jurisdictions may bring declaratory judgment actions against the United States before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain Section 5 review of for voting changes or to terminate their coverage, under the Act's special provision, (also known as "bailing out") as provided by Section 4(a) of the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act requires that Section 5 enforcement actions and declaratory judgment actions under both Sections 4 and 5 be heard and decided by three-judge courts. These courts are typically composed of two United States District Court judges and one United States Court of Appeals judge. Appeals from these courts go directly to the United States Supreme Court.


Updated August 6, 2015