With crucial midterm elections coming up later this year, Republicans continue to use a landmark Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to clamp down on voting rights and access. John M. Gore, appointed by President Donald Trump as acting head of the Civil Rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, has a history of defending Republican redistricting plans in Virginia, South Carolina, New York and Florida. One of Gore’s first moves in his new role was to drop part of a lawsuit challenging the Texas voter ID requirements that help keep minorities from voting. Such restrictions have become more common since the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. Thirty-four states now have voter ID laws.
“We need to deal with the fact that, 52 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, we’re going backwards,” former North Carolina NAACP President William Barber II said in February, when he and other members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights met in Raleigh, as I wrote about previously for DCReport.org, to talk about civil rights enforcement.
Former President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Part of the law, known as Section 5, required states and local governments with histories of keeping African-Americans and other minorities from voting to submit changes in voting law to Washington to be approved.