Section 5 Stands, Now Congress Must Strengthen Voting Rights Act

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.”


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 (, 646-292-8322), Erik Opsal (, 646-292-8356), Seth Hoy (, 646-292-8369), or Lena Glaser (, 646-292-8342).