Eight Years Ago, the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. Widespread Voter Suppression Resulted.

Twenty-six states have since passed restrictive voting laws, including 10 that previously needed federal approval.

On June 25, 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that states with a long history of voting discrimination no longer needed to get federal approval for changes to their election procedures. “Things have changed dramatically” since the law’s enactment in 1965, Roberts wrote in Shelby County v. Holder, implying that there was no reason to think those states would pass discriminatory voting restrictions in the future.

But since that decision—which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg compared to “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet”—new voter suppression laws have proliferated across the country. Twenty-six states have enacted new restrictions on voting since the Shelby ruling, according to an analysis by Mother Jones on the eighth anniversary of the decision, based on data provided by the Brennan Center for Justice and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Roughly 40 percent of these states previously had to clear their voting changes with the federal government—meaning that new restrictions on voting enacted by states such as Arizona, Georgia, and Texas likely would have been blocked if not for the Shelby decision.  

These include measures like strict voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, new barriers to voter registration and voting by mail, polling place closures, and voter roll purges. Such laws have steadily increased since the Shelby decision and have dramatically accelerated this year, following Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, with 17 states enacting 28 new voting restrictions this year alone, according to the Brennan Center.

“What we’ve seen since Shelby is a raft of voting restrictions across the country,” says Eliza Sweren-Becker, a Brennan Center attorney. “That trend has never been more obvious than in 2021, when we have seen so many states pass new voter suppression laws.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate