While minorities have experienced great progress because of the Voting Rights Act, particularly section 5 of the Act, the work to achieve an electoral process free of discrimination remains unfinished. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Act, which provided the coverage formula through which section 5 was implemented. Without section 4, there is no section 5. The historical and contemporaneous discrimination that minorities in states formerly covered under section 5 continue to face is substantial and outpaces that in noncovered states. Scholars cannot divorce the debate surrounding section 5’s constitutionality, which continues even after Shelby County, from its historical role in combating discrimination in voting. Using a comparative framework of a section 5–covered jurisdiction and a noncovered jurisdiction, this Article discusses the impact of the loss of section 4 of the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder and suggests a path forward.
Unfinished Business: Protecting Voting Rights in the Twenty-First Century, 81 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1928 (2013)