SSN Commentary

The Roberts Court Takes Aim at the Voting Rights Act

Policy field

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University of Kentucky

Originally published in The Washington Monthly on September 29, 2022.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965—the crown jewel of the civil rights movement—has two strikes against it at John Roberts’s Supreme Court. Strike three is likely in a new case the Court will hear on October 4.

The first strike came in 2013 when the Court curtailed the act in Shelby County v. Holder. That case invalidated the portion of the act that determined which jurisdictions must seek preapproval for voting changes because they have a history of discrimination. Because of the Shelby County ruling, states and local governments with a record of racism are free to enact restrictive voting rules and unfair redistricting maps without meaningful oversight.