Mother Jones: Voting Rights Activists Just Won a Big Fight in the Heart of Texas


According to Gerry Hebert, executive director of the national Campaign Legal Center and a lawyer for the lead plaintiffs, the law's opponents had to raise more than $1 million to litigate the case.

"The million dollars that we had to raise had to be shouldered by the victims of discrimination," Hebert said.

The loss of Section 5 came as a blow to the voting rights movement. "It was our most effective way to stop racial discrimination in voting," said Julie Fernandez, advocacy director for voting rights at the Open Society Foundations. Previously, the courts could rule on a law's potentially discriminatory effect before it was even implemented; now, that could only happen after the fact and on the backs of plaintiffs. "The beauty before Shelby County was that the burden was not on the victims of discrimination," Hebert said, "it was on the perpetrators of discrimination."

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