Voting Rights Act – Civil and Human Rights Groups File Supreme Court Brief in Defense of the Voting Rights Act

Media 02.4.13

Washington, D.C. ––The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human  Rights, the coalition that spearheaded the original passage and subsequent reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), was joined by 28 other civil rights groups in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. The case challenges Section 5 of the VRA, which protects voters from discrimination in jurisdictions with persistent efforts to deny the right to vote based on race or ethnicity.

The 28 organizations joining The Leadership Conference’s brief include the Anti-Defamation League, AARP, the League of Women Voters, the National Urban League, Project Vote, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and many others. Attorneys with the firm of Goodwin Proctor LLP provided lead counsel for the brief.

The brief highlights three key arguments for why the Court should uphold Section 5 of the VRA, a vital tool that protects voters from real attempts at disenfranchisement.

  •  Section 5 continues to provide real protection to real voters: As recent court decisions in South Carolina, Texas, and Florida have shown, without Section 5, there is a real risk that the progress made in the covered jurisdictions since 1965 would be rolled back.
  • Congress has thoroughly scrutinized the evidence supporting Section 5 of the VRA and determined that voters in covered jurisdictions merit strong protections: The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution ensures the right to vote is not denied on account of race or color, and gives Congress the authority to protect this right.
  • The law is flexible and practical: Jurisdictions that have complied with the Voting Rights Act for 10 years are eligible to have their coverage terminated under the “bail out” provision. Since 1982, every jurisdiction that has sought a bailout has received one.

“Voter discrimination based on race is not just a thing of the past—it is a current reality that persists today,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The VRA provides protection to voters where they need it most, in local and state jurisdictions that have a history of voter discrimination, while rewarding jurisdictions that no longer discriminate against their own voters by allowing them to bail out. As our brief shows, the VRA has a proud history, a robust present, and a bright future.”

Click here for a PDF of the brief.

A full list of signers is below:

  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • AARP
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Advancement Project
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • American Jewish Committee
  • The Center for American Progress
  • Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Racial Justice
  • Church Women United
  • Common Cause
  • DÄ“mos
  • The Hip Hop Caucus
  • The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights-San Francisco Bay Area
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • The League of Women Voters
  • National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher EducationThe National Association of Social Workers
  • National Black Law Students Association
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Education Association
  • National Urban League
  • Project Vote
  • Public Advocates, Inc.
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Union for Reform Judaism / Central Conference of American Rabbis / Women of Reform Judaism