The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) observes the three-year anniversary of the Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder decision while preparing for the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the full force of the Voting Rights Act. In our briefing and oral argument to the Supreme Court in 2013, LDF lawyers predicted that the removal of Section 5’s protections would result in precisely the wave of discriminatory voting changes documented in our new report, Democracy Diminished, which catalogues a range of proposed and implemented voting changes across thirteen states post-Shelby County. “As civil rights groups predicted, new and resurgent forms of voter discrimination have been rampant since the Voting Rights Act was gutted three years ago,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “Everyone should be asking their Representatives—today and every day—why we cannot have a hearing on a bill to restore Section 5, the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”
Together, with our allies at other civil rights groups led by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, we continue to demand that Congress take immediate action to restore the key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that we lost with the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision. Bi-partisan members of Congress have introduced legislation to address voting discrimination in every Congressional session since the Supreme Court’s ruling, but that effort has stalled. It is imperative that we move forward on the consideration of this proposed legislation as the political participation of millions of citizens of color depends on it.
“We have been tracking the districts that were served by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act since the day after the Shelby County decision,” said Leah Aden, Senior Counsel at LDF and principal author of our report. “We will continue to be vigilant, along with our community partners, in keeping our eyes on these state and local jurisdictions, which have unleashed photo identification laws, introduced discriminatory methods of election, reduced early voting opportunities, moved or closed polling places, and more, to the detriment of communities of color.” As LDF’s recent Democracy Diminished report explicitly illustrates, the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision has left scores of minority voters vulnerable to voter suppression schemes in towns, counties, and states across the country. In the absence of corrective legislation, the collective impact of this voting discrimination diminishes our democracy.
“Now, more than ever, we must renew our commitment to protect the right to vote,” said Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel at LDF. Three years with no action is three years too long. LDF will continue its more than 75-year history of working aggressively to ensure equal and unrestricted political participation for all.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.