To establish the time and manner for electing

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to establish the time and manner for electing Senators and Representatives. Art. I, §4, cl. 1; see also Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz. , Inc. , ante , at 4–6. But States have “broad powers to determine the conditions under which the right of suffrage may be exercised.” Carrington v. Rash , 380 U. S. 89, 91 (1965) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Arizona , ante , at 13–15. And “[e]ach State has the power to prescribe the qualifications of its officers and the manner in which they shall be chosen.” Boyd v. Nebraska ex rel. Thayer , 143 U. S. 135, 161 (1892). Drawing lines for congressional districts is likewise “pri- marily the duty and responsibility of the State.” Perry v. Perez , 565 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) ( per curiam ) (slip op., at 3) (internal quotation marks omitted). Not only do States retain sovereignty under the Consti- tution, there is also a “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty” among the States. Northwest Austin , supra , at 203 (citing United States v. Louisiana , 363 U. S. 1, 16 (1960); Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan , 3 How. 212, 223 (1845); and Texas v. White , 7 Wall. 700, 725–726 (1869); emphasis added). Over a hundred years ago, this Court explained that our Nation “was and is a union of States, equal in power, dignity and authority.” Coyle v. Smith , 221 U. S. 559, 567 (1911). Indeed, “the constitutional equality of the
11 Cite as: 570 U. S. ____ (2013) Opinion of the Court States is essential to the harmonious operation of the scheme upon which the Republic was organized.” Id., at 580. Coyle concerned the admission of new States, and Katzenbach rejected the notion that the principle operated as a bar on differential treatment outside that context. 383 U. S., at 328–329. At the same time, as we made clear in Northwest Austin , the fundamental principle of equal sovereignty remains highly pertinent in assessing subse- quent disparate treatment of States. 557 U. S., at 203. The Voting Rights Act sharply departs from these basic principles. It suspends “ all changes to state election law— however innocuous—until they have been precleared by federal authorities in Washington, D. C.” Id. , at 202. States must beseech the Federal Government for permis- sion to implement laws that they would otherwise have the right to enact and execute on their own, subject of course to any injunction in a §2 action. The Attorney General has 60 days to object to a preclearance request, longer if he requests more information. See 28 CFR §§51.9, 51.37. If a State seeks preclearance from a three- judge court, the process can take years. And despite the tradition of equal sovereignty, the Act applies to only nine States (and several additional coun- ties). While one State waits months or years and expends funds to implement a validly enacted law, its neighbor can typically put the same law into effect immediately, through the normal legislative process. Even if a noncov- ered jurisdiction is sued, there are important differences between those proceedings and preclearance proceedings; the preclearance proceeding “not only switches the burden of proof to the supplicant jurisdiction, but also applies substantive standards quite different from those govern- ing the rest of the nation.”

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