Supreme Court Strikes Down Current Coverage Formula to Voting Rights Act

Affiliate: ACLU of Mississippi
June 25, 2013 12:00 am

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Jackson, Miss. – “The Voting Rights Act, a civil rights law that has protected the right to vote for people of color since 1965, has been crucial in ensuring that African-Americans have access to the polls in Mississippi,” said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby presents a real challenge to Americans’ fundamental right to vote. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has put up a roadblock that will make voting less fair, free and accessible.”

The Court struck down the coverage formula used to determine which states and political subdivisions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Today’s decision did not strike down Section 5 itself, leaving it to Congress to devise a new coverage formula.

When Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years in 2006, it overwhelmingly concluded that there is a great need for the strong federal protections of the Voting Rights Act to ensure that the minority vote would not be diluted. This extension, signed into law by President George W. Bush, had overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Preclearance is the single greatest tool that has helped make sure people have the right to vote, said Atwood, “In fact, in Mississippi, Section 5 blocked 112 discriminatory laws between 1982 and 2006. Our state should be working to expand and protect the precious right to vote, not enacting barriers such as the voter identification law.”

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