Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The modern voting rights movement began with passage of the Voting Rights Act of 19651 and was essentially black and southern. To-day that movement, propelled by a series of congressional amendments to the Act, favorable court decisions, and the concerted efforts of minority and civil rights communities, is multiracial and national in character. It is also having an increasingly profound impact on American politics.

Although the 1965 Act had provisions that applied nationwide,Congress intentionally targeted seven states of the old Confederacy-Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and portions of North Carolina-for the application of unique and stringent measures described by the Supreme Court as the "heart of the Act." The new measures suspended discriminatory literacy and other tests which had been used to deny blacks the vote. The Act also prohibited the affected jurisdictions from enacting any new discriminatory laws by requiring them for a period of five years to pre-clear all changes in their election practices with federal officials.