It is clear from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work in the Deep South – and that of other civil rights organizations over the last several decades – that efforts to disenfranchise Black people and other communities are alive and well. These efforts were exemplified by the unprecedented obstacles voters faced during the 2020 presidential election and the wave of voter suppression laws introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2021.
A few years ago, a 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder delivered a devastating blow to voting rights. The decision rendered Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) unenforceable, releasing states and localities with histories of racial discrimination in voting from the requirement of receiving federal approval before making any voting changes. In the South, this included all of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and parts of Florida and North Carolina.
While the decision allowed Congress the option of creating a new formula to once again require federal oversight of such voting changes, lawmakers have failed to act. This failure has helped unleash a flood of discriminatory and burdensome voting changes across the country, some of which have been challenged in court.
The SPLC promotes bold, progressive federal action to protect and strengthen the right to vote and participate in the political process. Our work has largely focused on Deep South states that were once completely or partially covered by Section 5 of the VRA. This page contains various resources and documents related to our voting rights work beyond our litigation, including amicus curiae briefs the SPLC has filed in cases brought by other attorneys on behalf of voters and advocacy organizations. These briefs, also known as “friend-of-the-court briefs,” outline our positions on matters at the heart of these important cases and can be found here.