SCOTUS’ Shelby Decision Continues To Harm Black Americans Voting Rights In Deep South

Photos: Black Voters Matter\Facebook

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision changed the landscape of voting rights in the Deep South as we know it.

This landmark opinion dismantled the preclearance process of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which, for almost half a century, prevented certain states with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices from making changes to their voting process without federal preclearance.

As a result of this damning decision, this critical accountability tool was erased in one fell swoop.

As we outline in our new report, A Decade-Long Erosion: The Impact of the Shelby County Decision on the Political Participation and Representation of Black People and Other People of Color in the Deep South, the Shelby County decision directly led to state legislatures across the Deep South passing a slew of voter suppression bills to stymie the votes of Black and Brown people.

Ten years after this devastating decision, these voters are subject to myriad voting barriers – including photo ID laws, felony disenfranchisement, polling place changes, voter purges and more. While affecting all communities of color, this pernicious voter suppression has particularly harmed Black people, who have, for generations, overcome myriad hurdles to access the fundamental right to vote.

• TIMELINE: A decade of harm to voting rights

But, in the midst of this attack on our democracy, there is a path forward. As outlined in the report, there are several bold policy proposals that advocates of democracy in the Deep South can support to bolster voting access for Black and Brown people – including the reintroduction of a strengthened Voting Rights Act.

“The time is now for us to work together to support political participation and representation for Black people and other people of color in the Deep South,” said Andrea McChristian, policy research director for the SPLC and one of the report’s primary authors. “As we look toward future elections, we must do all we can to protect access to our democracy and restore the power of the Voting Rights Act and broader access to democracy for communities of color in the Deep South.”

We encourage you to read it and use it as a tool to advance the political participation and representation of Black and Brown people in the Deep South for the next decade – and beyond.

Illustration by Zoë van Dijk

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