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Arizona Challenges Voting Rights Act

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famed "I Have Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963. The speech galvanized the nation's civil rights movements and led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. (cc/sp/files UPI)

WASHINGTON -- Arizona is suing the U.S. government, questioning the constitutionality of a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horn said the suit, filed Thursday, challenged a part of the law that requires Arizona and other jurisdictions -- mainly in the South -- to get permission, or "pre-clearance" from the Justice Department for changes to voting procedures, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in our society by ensuring that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "The provisions challenged in this case, including the pre-clearance requirement, were reauthorized by Congress in 2006 with overwhelming and bipartisan support."

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.

Horne said Arizona was subject to the Justice Department procedure even though the state demonstrated fairness to racial minority voters, NBC News said.

"Arizona is still penalized for archaic violations that were corrected with the implementation of bilingual ballots prior to the 1974 elections," Horne said, adding Arizona, in 1974, became the second state to elect a Hispanic governor.

The lawsuit claims the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, "because it suspects all changes to state election law, however innocuous, until pre-clearance is given by the federal government," Horne said.

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