Backsliding: The United States Supreme Court, Shelby County v. Holder and the Dismantling of Voting Rights Act of 1965

17 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 251

7 Journal of Race, Gender & Ethnicity 251 (2015) (invited symposium submission)

Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-7

13 Pages Posted: 31 May 2015 Last revised: 3 Jun 2015

See all articles by Bridgette Baldwin

Bridgette Baldwin

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

The Supreme Court, having found that certain states received unequal treatment under the Voting Rights Act, struck down the Act’s preclearance provision in its Shelby v. Holder holding. The Author, in an effort to critique the conclusion reached by the Court, argues that these states, historically responsible for obstructing the ability of African-Americans to vote, continue to engage in practices that result in voting irregularities and acts of discrimination in the electoral process. Today, this strategic disenfranchisement rears its head in the form of legislation making voting difficult or impossible for many minority voters, a criminal justice system that targets racial minorities, and a lack of representation for citizens of color in both federal and state offices.

The Author argues that without a preclearance requirement, “second generation” barriers to voting — such as the passage of voter ID laws and the dilution of black voting power through gerrymandering — will be constructed. The Author cites statistics on hate crimes based on racial bias, the disproportionate imprisonment of minorities, and the limited representation of African Americans in politics to support the main argument that racial disenfranchisement has persisted into the present day. The Author concludes that while the Voting Rights Act has never addressed all of the strategies used to suppress the black vote, the Supreme Court should still consider them if it wants to consider fully the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racism.

Keywords: racial discrimination, voting rights act, supreme court, Shelby v. Holder, African Americans

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, Bridgette, Backsliding: The United States Supreme Court, Shelby County v. Holder and the Dismantling of Voting Rights Act of 1965 (2015). 17 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 251 ; 7 Journal of Race, Gender & Ethnicity 251 (2015) (invited symposium submission) ; Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2611349

Bridgette Baldwin (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

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