The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

On the 8-Year Mark of Shelby County v. Holder, Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance

Across the country, state legislatures have moved with unprecedented force to adopt new discriminatory voting restrictions.


In 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights advocates feared that southern states with a history of voting discrimination would immediately return to their old ways. Those fears were realized when, within hours of the Shelby decision, the state of Texas announced its intent to implement a restrictive voter ID law and others followed suit. Today, those fears are realized and amplified once again, as legislators in many states across the country have introduced discriminatory targeted at suppressing the turnout of Black voters and other voters of color.

The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

"What is happening across the country today can be summed up in one thought: Anti-voter politicians, who do not like the growing political influence that Black and Brown communities have in this country, are trying to silence our voice by impinging upon our most fundamental right.

"For more than 40 years, the Voting Rights Act enabled Black voters and other voters of color, especially in Southern states, to access the ballot box and help choose our elected officials. Key to the Act's effectiveness was its preclearance provision, which required changes to voting practices in places where discrimination was rampant to be approved by federal officials or a federal court before going into effect. When the Supreme Court invalidated the coverage formula that determined which states were subject to preclearance, it opened the floodgates of voter suppression.

"Today the attacks on the right to vote are not just in the South; instead, they are happening all over our country. But the objective is still the same--prevent Black voters and other voters of color from reaching the ballot box and silence our voices in the democratic process, all under the false claim of promoting election integrity. It is appalling, and harkens back to past efforts to deny Black voters the opportunity to fully participate in our democracy.

"We are fighting back in communities, in the courts, and on Capitol Hill. Just today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it has filed an enforcement action challenging SB 202 in Georgia. SB202 is one of the most regressive voter suppression bills to ever be passed, and this lawsuit signals a return to the traditional civil rights enforcement role the Department of Justice has historically played.

"But we also need Congress to act now by passing both the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. Working in tandem, these two pieces of legislation would help restore ballot access and breathe new life into our democracy."

The Lawyers' Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity - work that continues to be vital today.

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