#AceHistory2ResearchNews – September 22 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of American federal legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. President Lyndon B.
Johnson signed the Act into law (pictured) during the height of the Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended it five times.
The Act allowed for a mass enfranchisement of racial minorities across the country, especially in the South. Section 2 of the Act prohibits state and local governments from imposing any voting law that has a discriminatory effect on racial or language minorities, and other provisions specifically ban literacy-tests and similar discriminatory devices.
Some provisions apply only to jurisdictions covered by the Act’s “coverage formula”, which was designed to encompass jurisdictions that engaged in egregious voting discrimination.
Chiefly, Section 5 prohibits these jurisdictions from changing their election practices without first receiving approval from the federal government that the change is not discriminatory.
In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula as unconstitutional, reasoning that it no longer responded to current conditions.
Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___(2013), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal pre-clearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices; and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to pre-clearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.
On June 25, 2013, the Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that Section 4(b) is unconstitutional because the coverage formula is based on data over 40 years old, making it no longer responsive to current needs and therefore an impermissible burden on the constitutional principles of federalism and equal sovereignty of the states.
The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without Section 4(b), no jurisdiction will be subject to Section 5 pre-clearance unless Congress enacts a new coverage formula.