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Civil rights movement

The gutting of the Voting Rights Act

In 2013, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby v. Holder case gutted Voting Rights Act enforcement, throwing into question the single most important achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. 

The decision invalidated a formula that named jurisdictions that had to pass federal scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act (called “preclearance”) before they could pass any new elections or voting laws. Those jurisdictions were selected based on their history of discrimination in voting. 

The results have been predictable. Voter ID laws have been introduced in several states, some voting laws that make it easier to register and cast ballots have been destroyed, and voting has become more difficult particularly for poor and elderly Black people and Latinos.