ACLU History: Changing the Face of American Politics
Dunn v. Blumstein (1972), invalidating Tennessee's one-year residency requirement for registration and voting as violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Aside from its general impact on all voters, such residency requirements had been enacted by many Southern states after Reconstruction as another device to deter registration and voting by blacks, who had become more mobile following the abolition of slavery.
McCain v. Lybrand (1984),expanding the reach of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the special preclearance provision, by requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to specifically identify the proposed changes in their voting practices or procedures.
Hunter v. Underwood (1985), holding that an Alabama law disfranchising persons convicted of misdemeanors involving 'moral turpitude' violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it had been adopted purposefully to discriminate against blacks and deny them access to voting.
Windy Boy v. Big Horn County (1986), applying Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as amended in 1982, to invalidate 'at-large' elections because they diluted the voting strength of American Indians.
Many of the cases filed by the ACLU to enforce the VRA were complex and required years of hard work to bring to fruition. The ACLU's voting rights litigation didn't always make headlines, but it quietly transformed the face of American politics, and represents one of the organization's most significant and far-reaching achievements to date.