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Constitutional FAQ Answer #6

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Q6. "During class today, we were discussing Amendment 15. Is it true that it will expire in the year 2008?"

A. There is no expiration date on the 15th Amendment. Don't worry, the right of citizens to vote regardless of color is safe. Unfortunately, people are hearing the myth of the "Expiring Right to Vote" and spreading it as if it was true.

The rumor is that the 15th Amendment would expire in 2007 or 2008. The origins of this rumor appear to stem from the enforcement arm of the 15th, the Voting Rights Act. The Act was passed in 1965. Certain portions of the Act, which allow the federal government to take special actions against jurisdictions that refused to enact the Act, are considered temporary and were to have expired, but have been extended several times; under President Reagan, the provisions were extended for 25 years in 1982, and under President Bush, they were extended for another 25 years in 2006. If, in 2031, these special actions are allowed to expire, it will likely be because no one deems them necessary any longer. If they do expire, and a court decides they are required once more, a court order can place them back into effect. This "expiration date" notwithstanding, the 15th Amendment is still in place. For more information, see the Department of Justice site.

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