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Social Justice Tuesday-"History did not end in 1965":Shelby County and the Voting Rights Act
William H. Gates Hall
12:30 PM - 1:20 PM
Speaker: Professor Lisa Manheim-
Prior to joining the UW faculty Professor Manheim worked as an associate at Perkins Coie LLP, where she specialized in appellate practice, commercial litigation, and political law. Election law is one of her areas of research.
In June 1963, the situation in Birmingham, Alabama had gotten so bad – the violence against and suppression of civil rights activists so abhorrent – that President John F. Kennedy announced on national TV that the events had “so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them."
In June 2013, another Alabama jurisdiction prevailed before the United States Supreme Court in its challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, perhaps the most important and sweeping civil rights legislation in the country’s history – and a direct legislative response to that violence from fifty years before. In explaining his ruling, Chief Justice Roberts announced that “history did not end in 1965” and, moreover, that “things have changed dramatically.” In dissent, Justice Ginsburg argued not only that the “scourge of discrimination” still exists, but also that invalidating the Voting Rights Act was as fundamentally wrongheaded as “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
In this discussion, we will address the Voting Rights Act, the Court’s decision in Shelby County, the effects of the Court’s ruling, and what interested observers might do in response.