Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued the following statement today commemorating the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:
“Fifty-seven years ago tomorrow, one of our nation’s most consequential pieces of civil rights legislation — the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — was signed into law.
“The Voting Rights Act sought to make real the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that no American citizen be denied the right to vote on account of race.
“Central to the law was Section 5’s “preclearance” provision, which prevented jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices from adopting new voting rules until they could show the Justice Department or a federal court that the change would not have a racially discriminatory purpose or result.
“Yet in its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court effectively eliminated the act’s preclearance protections. And in the years since, there has been a dramatic rise in legislative efforts that make it harder for millions of Americans to vote and to elect representatives of their own choice.
“Ahead of the 57th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department remains committed to relentlessly protecting voting rights with the enforcement powers we have. And we continue to ask Congress to restore critical tools to help protect the fundamental right to vote.”