In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. This law was instrumental part of the Civil Rights movement. The law prohibited discrimination on the base of race with regard to the right to vote. The law was designed to strengthen the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution with regard to civil rights and a citizens right to vote.
The law has been amended 5 times over the years in order to expand the rights and protections for racial minorities in the United States. The law also secured the voting rights for racial minorities in the Southern United States. This legislation has been the most successful with regard to civil rights.
However, in June 2013, the United States Supreme Court gutted the heart of the law in a 5 to 4 vote. The vote essentially freed 9 states, most in the South, from contacting the federal government for approval before changing any election laws. Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the tide of the times had changed in America with regard to racial discrimination and the laws must be changed accordingly. He is quoted as saying,“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.” He also stated that the information was based on facts from 40 years ago which simply do not translate to today’s election environment.
The ruling put many wheels in motion. In Texas, it was confirmed that a voter identification law that was previously blocked would become effective. Also, changes in voter map redistricting and provisions on early voting wouldn’t need federal approval. It also stated that any litigation that comes up won’t be effective until after voting occurs.
Many people, including those involved in the Civil Rights movement, are very disappointed with the ruling, fear that lingering racial divides will cause new problems when African Americans go to cast their vote since the Act prevented problems from happening in the first place.