Today the conservative wing of the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, striking down decades of civil rights precedent and clear Congressional intent.
Here are five things you should know about a case that will open the door to increased efforts at voting suppression:
1) The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by Lyndon Johnson in the wake of the bloody attack on voting rights supporters in Selma, Alabama.
2) Because of the repeated and incorrigible voting suppression of states in the Old Confederacy, the Voting Rights Act has a provision - Section 5 – that requires states with a demonstrated history of infringing on voting rights to “preclear” any election changes with the Department of Justice.
3) Although the covered states were originally those who practiced Jim Crow, another provision – Section 4 – contained a flexible formula that allowed these states to “bail out” if they stopped illegally discriminating and could “bail in” new states that suppressed the vote.
4) These sections working in tandem have been upheld as constitutional four times by the Supreme Court and have been repeatedly updated and reauthorized by Congress, most recently in 2006, because of continued and entrenched voter suppression.
5) In the just released Shelby County v. Holder, however, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts issued a bitterly split opinion ignoring history, precedent, and Congress, and rendered Section 5 useless by striking down Section 4.