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17 CUNY L. Rev. Footnote Forum 1 (2013-2014)

handle is hein.journals/cunyform17 and id is 1 raw text is: 







              CUNY Law Review Footnote Forum
                            August 15, 2013

Recommended citation:
Frank Deale, Reflections on the History and Future of the Voting Rights Act in the Wake of
Shelby County, 17 CUNY L. REV. F. 1 (2013), http://www.cunylawreview.org/696/
[https://perma.cc/NWZ8-2FGL].


REFLECTIONS ON THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF THE
VOTING RIGHTS ACT IN THE WAKE OF SHELBY COUNTY

                            Frank Deale*

                                   1.

   At the conclusion of America's deadliest military conflict, the United
States Congress sought to reconstruct a nation torn apart by civil war by
enacting a program of radical social change designed to eliminate the legal
disabilities shouldered by the newly freed African-American male
population. Included  in the numerous proposals was a series of
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution: the 13th Amendment would abolish
the institution of slavery; the 14th Amendment would provide equal
protection and due process under law to those with former slave status; and
the 15th Amendment would enable them to protect these rights via a right to
vote, unencumbered by race or color discrimination. The Congress was
empowered to enforce this provision with appropriate legislation.
   Less than 50 years after the enactment of these historic provisions, a
substantial number of African-Americans went to polling stations in the
state of Alabama, the home of Shelby County, seeking to register as voters
for an upcoming election. In flagrant violation of the language in the
Constitution, they were turned away because of their race. Undaunted, over
5,000 of them joined a civil case to enforce the Constitution, which was
heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court correctly
understood the gist of the plaintiffs' complaint, which was that the great
mass of the white population intends to keep the blacks from voting.' Yet,


     Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law. Professor Deale has taught on the faculty
of Rutgers Law School, Newark, and for 14 years was a member of the staff of the Center
for Constitutional Rights, where he served successively as staff attorney, Associate Legal
Director, and Legal Director. Among the classes he teaches at CUNY School of Law are
Federal Courts, Civil Procedure, and Civil Rights.
    1 Giles v. Harris, 189 U.S. 475, 487 (1903).

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