Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Section of Voting Rights Act

Decision is a Blow to Voters’ Rights


Yesterday, in Shelby County v Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 4 was a critical piece of legislation that helped ensure the ability of eligible voters to cast a ballot regardless of race, age or gender, and the Court’s decision is a blow to voters’ rights. 

The Voting Rights Act required all state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws — a process known as preclearance.

The court did not declare preclearance unconstitutional. Rather, it said that the formula to determine which state and local governments must comply with preclearance is unconstitutional. Until Congress updates this formula to comply with the Court’s decision, these governments will be allowed to change their voting laws without preclearance. 

Blair Bowie, U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate, said in response to the Court’s ruling, “This decision is a major setback for voting rights and will have a real impact on voters. The Voting Rights Act is a vital tool to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot.”

For more than 35 years, U.S. PIRG has worked for a vibrant democracy, to make it as easy as possible for citizens to vote and register to vote.

U.S. PIRG now urges Congress to act in the best interest of our democracy by updating the Voting Rights Act as soon as possible.