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.
Bridgette Baldwin, Symposium: Backsliding: The United States Supreme Court, Shelby County v. Holder and the Dismantling of Voting Rights Act of 1965, 17 BERKELEY J. AFR.-AM. L. & POL'Y 251 & 7 J. RACE, GENDER & ETHNICITY 251 (2015) (invited symposium submission).