Ten Years After Shelby County v. Holder: Charting the Path Forward for Our Democracy
Ten Years After Shelby County v. Holder: Charting the Path Forward for Our Democracy builds on the work that the civil rights community has long engaged in to document the pervasiveness and persistence of racial discrimination in voting. This has been particularly necessary to demonstrate the continued need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which requires jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to preclear voting changes with the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court to ensure they are not discriminatory. Collecting this information is especially critical after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder — decided 10 years ago — gutted the VRA’s preclearance provision. The Court ruled that the formula Congress used to determine which jurisdictions are required to preclear voting changes was outdated and invited Congress to update the VRA to address current conditions in voting.
This report provides an overview of those current conditions, including the breadth and depth of the harms caused by the Supreme Court 10 years into the Shelby County ruling. It underscores the immediate and cumulative harm imposed on voters of color that continues to this day. It also stresses the urgency of restoring and strengthening voting rights laws to protect voters. Importantly, it highlights the need to double down on efforts to engage, educate, and empower voters of color in the face of intense efforts to stifle their voices and exclude them from participating in democracy.
We hope our colleagues across the country and our nation’s policymakers benefit from this report as we work toward an America as good as its ideals, which includes a federal government that is in the business of vigorously defending the right to vote.