Why the Voting Rights Act Makes Sense

On February 1st the Southern Coalition of Social Justice filed an amicus brief in Shelby County v. Holder on behalf of numerous political science and law professors.  The brief highlights the wealth of available empirical data supporting the rationality of the formula that Congress used to determine which jurisdictions would and would not be covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Shelby County v. Holder is a case in which plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, limited to the question of whether Congress’ decision when reauthorizing the Act in 2006 to retain the coverage formula previously employed—whereby Section 5 only applies to 16 states, in whole or part — was rational. These states and counties are ones with a history of discrimination in voting. 
By presenting a comprehensive summary of empirical evidence showing the ongoing differences between covered and non-covered jurisdictions, the political science and law professors’ brief demonstrates resoundingly the rationality of the coverage formula and the continuing need for Section 5’s protections for voters of color in covered jurisdictions.  For example, the brief highlights numerous national surveys and academic studies that reveal that negative racial attitudes among whites are significantly more prevalent in covered jurisdictions.  Another example highlighted in the brief is the disparity between covered and non-covered jurisdictions in employment discrimination—Covered jurisdictions are the sites of a disproportionate share of job discrimination and retaliation findings.  All of these factors influence the ability of voters of color to participate fully and equally in the political process.
This brief will provide the Court with invaluable evidence necessary to reach the unavoidable conclusion that it must uphold Section 5 and its coverage formula.  The amicus brief can be found here:  Shelby Amicus Brief.