Leah Aden, Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on the continuing challenges to the Voting Rights Act (VRA) since Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court decision which unleashed a wave of voter suppression in the United States. Since Shelby, federal courts have found that the legislatures passed racially discriminatory voting laws intentionally, for the purpose of discriminating against Black and/or Latino voters. Today’s hearing reiterates the need to pass H.R. 4, which would include a measure ensuring that jurisdictions engaged in systematic discrimination submit voting changes to a federal authority for preclearance. Aden testified alongside Fair Fight Founder Stacey Abrams and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke.
“The right to vote for Black people and other people of color is facing its greatest threat in decades,” said Aden. “The Shelby decision invalidated the preclearance provision of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, removing the obligation of jurisdictions with a history and ongoing record of discrimination from submitting proposed voting changes to a federal authority for approval. This process ensured that those changes would not discriminate against African American and other voters.
“The result of the Shelby decision was predictable. Within hours of the decision, the Texas Attorney General tweeted out his intention to implement a voter i.d. law that the state had been forbidden from implementing under Section 5. Other jurisdictions, including Alabama, followed suit. Even more alarming, voter suppression has metastasized in the years since the Shelby decision with places like Wisconsin, North Dakota, and jurisdictions in Kansas adopting laws and practices which result in voter suppression.”
Later, Aden continued, “Since the Shelby decision, federal courts have found that officials in five different states have passed racially discriminatory voting laws intentionally—for the purpose of discriminating against Black and/or Latino voters. For example, in North Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the legislature worked with ‘surgical provision’ to ensure that its omnibus voting law would disproportionately disenfranchise African American voters. There is a voter suppression crisis in this country. Congress has an obligation to use the enforcement powers it was bestowed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to amend the Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters from racially discriminatory voting schemes.”
You can read LDF’s full written testimony here.
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.