Congressional Digest

Supreme Court Debates October 2013 No. 7 Vol. 16
Reconsidering the Voting Rights Act

Reconsidering the Voting Rights Act

Federal Efforts to Combat Discriminatory Election Laws

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Excerpt

In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to address widespread discrimination against minorities in the South. Local and State governments had passed Jim Crow laws — such as poll taxes and literacy tests — that successfully prevented African Americans from participating in the electoral process in large numbers. Every time the Federal Government sued to block these types of laws, the offending States would devise new means to accomplish the same ends.

The result was clear in the statistics of the time: In Alabama in 1964, for instance, black voter registration was 19.5 percent. In Mississippi, …

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