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Shelby County v. Holder

Full name: Shelby County v. Holder, Attorney General

Click here to read the decision

Samuel Alito
Anthony Kennedy
John G. Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas

Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Sonia Sotomayor

Note: Court justices do not represent any political party. The color of each judge's name represents the political party of the president who appointed the judge.

Click here for a list of all Supreme Court justices

Related Issues

Voting Rights

Related Bills

Voting Rights Act

1965 (S-1564)

What happened?

The Supreme Court effectively invalidated the part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to pre-clear any changes to their voting laws - by saying that the formula used to determine affected districts was outdated.

How this case got to the Supreme Court

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 calls for states and congressional districts with a history of voting discrimination to pre-clear any changes to their voting practices with the federal government.

The state of Alabama was on that list. Shelby County in Alabama sued the federal government, claiming that the formula used to determine which districts are subject to pre-clearance was outdated - and therefore unconstitutional.

How the court ruled

The court did not rule pre-clearance (referred to as Section 5 of the law) unconstitutional. It also acknowledged that voter discrimination still exists. It ruled, however, that the formula used to select jurisdictions for pre-clearance (those with track records of discrimination as specified in Section 4 of the act) was outdated and unfair.

The court left it up to Congress to come up with a new formula to designate jurisdictions. Until that happens, any state or district can change their voting practices without the need to have the change pre-cleared by the federal government.

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