A New Voting Rights Act

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

President Lyndon Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. after signing the Voting Rights Act. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)

In a 5-4 decision issued in late June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Court specifically invalidated Section Four, the coverage formula that determined which states and jurisdictions would be required to obtain Department of Justice approval before changing their voting laws.

"Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Today Congress takes its first step toward devising a new coverage formula for the Voting Rights Act, as the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from Civil Rights veteran and Congressman John Lewis and Congressman James Sensenbrenner, among others. Yale Law Professor Heather Gerken, an expert in voting rights and election law, weighs in with her recommendations for a new Voting Rights Act.

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Heather Gerken

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

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