Since its founding in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund has been a pioneer in the struggle to secure and protect the voting rights of Black Americans. LDF has been involved in nearly all of the precedent-setting litigation relating to minority voting rights. LDF’s political participation group uses legal, legislative, public education, and advocacy strategies to promote the full, equal, and active participation of Black Americans in America’s democracy.
In Smith v. Allwright, Thurgood Marshall rose in front of the United States Supreme Court to argue that Texas’s Democratic primary system allowed whites to structurally dominate the politics of the one-party South. Specifically, the case presented the question of whether the Texas Democratic Party’s policy of prohibiting Blacks from voting in primary elections violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
The Supreme Court held that it did, explaining that:
The United States is a constitutional democracy. Its organic law grants to all citizens a right to participate in the choice of elected officials without restriction by any state because of race. This grant to the people of the opportunity for choice is not to be nullified by a state through casting its electoral process in a form which permits a private organization to practice racial dis-