Freedom Riders Arrive in Washington DC to Protect Voting Rights

Hundreds are headed to Washington, DC, to rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, February 27. The court will hear arguments on whether to strike Section Five of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The landmark law banned racial gerrymandering and opened Southern polling places to millions of African-American voters during the Civil Rights movement. Section Five, frequently called the “Heart of the Voting Rights Act,” requires states to ask either the Department of Justice or a three-judge court in Washington, D.C., for approval before making any changes to voting laws.

Shelby County v. Holder challenges the constitutionality of Section 5. Officials in Shelby County, AL, claim the anti-discrimination provisions in Section 5 are too costly and no longer needed. Civil rights and labor rights groups argue that federal voter protections are still needed and keeping Section 5 in place is crucial to ensuring equal access to voting for all Americans.

The outcome of the case will affect states with a history of racial discrimination: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It also covers certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota and some local jurisdictions in Michigan and New Hampshire.