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Section 5 Stands, Now Congress Must Strengthen Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effective tool to eradicate racial discrimination in voting. And it is still critical today.

June 25, 2013

The Supreme Court’s long-awaited ruling on voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder came down today, with the Court inval­id­at­ing the formula used to determ­ine which states are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights.

The Bren­nan Center for Justice released the follow­ing state­ment from Pres­id­ent Michael Wald­man:

“The Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effect­ive tool to erad­ic­ate racial discrim­in­a­tion in voting. And it is still crit­ical today. Last year, Section 5 helped block laws making it harder to vote. There is a path forward. Section 5 stands. Congress now has the duty to upgrade this key protec­tion and ensure our elec­tions remain free, fair, and access­ible for all Amer­ic­ans.”

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The Bren­nan Center has conduc­ted crit­ical research on restrict­ive voting laws. This month, we released a report detail­ing how strik­ing down Section 5 would threaten minor­ity voting rights. We also tracked voting law changes before the 2012 elec­tion and in 2013.

Bren­nan Center voting experts Michael Wald­man, Wendy Weiser, Myrna Pérez, and Nicole Austin-Hillery are avail­able to comment on the case and how it relates to the larger fight to restrict voting. They have appeared on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and the Melissa Harris-Perry show, along with Hard­ball, Fox News, and the War Room to discuss voting rights.

The Center filed an amicus brief with the Court on the Shelby case defend­ing Section 5, and published op-eds in U.S. News and World Report and the Chris­tian Science Monitor. Read our recent propos­als to fix long lines and modern­ize voter regis­tra­tion.

For more inform­a­tion, or to set up an inter­view, please contact Jean­ine Plant-Chirlin (jean­ine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu, 646–292–8322), Erik Opsal (erik.opsal@nyu.edu, 646–292–8356), Seth Hoy (seth.hoy@nyu.edu, 646–292–8369), or Lena Glaser (lena.glaser­@nyu.edu, 646–292–8342).