Share Email Print Font Size A A A

Shelby County v. Holder could be the biggest civil rights case of our time

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case on February 27th.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is under attack by conservatives. Section 5 requires that states “preclear” any changes to voting “qualifications or prerequisite to vote, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting” within “covered jurisdictions.” This preclearance goes through the Justice Department or a three judge panel of the U.S. District Court of D.C. to make sure that these new changes are not discriminatory practices towards minority voters.

Conservatives are bringing the argument that the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 5, is antiquated and outdated, but this could not be further from the truth. Section 5 is a flexible mechanism that has evolved and adapted over time to continue to serve as a remedy for voter disenfranchisement. Look no further than the recent stories coming out of Texas and South Carolina.

Progressives can take solace in knowing that precedent is on our side. The Voting Rights Act has been under attack by conservatives since it was passed and it has already been upheld four times by the Supreme Court in prior cases. Not only is precedent on our side, but facts are on our side. Discrimination still happens. Political tactics to suppress the votes of minorities still occur. Jurisdictions that are covered under this Act have demonstrated a strong enough history of implementing discriminatory restrictions on voting to be included. It is not picking on any one state or just Southern states; portions of California, New Hampshire, and even New York are also covered by the Voting Rights Act. This Act serves as way to protect voters from such disenfranchisement. If we wait for them to pass their discriminatory laws first and then go after it in the courts, people have already been disenfranchised. That doesn’t make sense.

It is important that we all fully understand what is at stake here and stand together demonstrating why keeping this Act in place is so vital to keeping a true and fair democracy. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to move backwards in civil and voting rights. And we will continue to stand strong against any and all attempts of conservatives to suppress the votes of anybody.

Bookmark and Share