Supreme Court Argument Highlights the Need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, ACLU Says

February 27, 2013 11:51 am

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Shelby County v. Holder over the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a civil rights law that has protected the right to vote for people of color since 1965.

The American Civil Liberties Union intervened in the case on behalf of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and several Shelby County residents in order to help uphold the law.

“The court heard a powerful argument today about why Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is one of the most important tools we have against discriminatory voting laws,” said Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU legal director. “The recent wave of restrictive voting laws has again demonstrated why the need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is as great as ever in order to preserve our democracy’s fundamental right to vote. No law in American history has been as vital for ensuring that every American has a full and fair right to participate in the political process. We hope the court continues to uphold this critical civil rights legislation, as it has already done four times since its enactment.”

For more information about Shelby County v. Holder and other Voting Rights Act cases, an interactive timeline on the Voting Rights Act, and a list of the ACLU’s voting rights experts:

NOTE: A telephone briefing will be held at 1:30 p.m. ET today on Shelby v. Holder. Participants will include Debo Adegbile, special counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Laughlin McDonald, director, ACLU Voting Rights Project, Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Pastor Harold Jones from Shelby County, Ala., who is a defendant in the case. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, and Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will also be available for questions. Members of the media should call 866-952-1907 and enter passcode Shelby to participate.

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