Sierra Club Statement On 10th Anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court Decision


BIRMINGHAM, AL -- Today marks 10 years since the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, in Shelby County v. Holder, eliminating, for most states, the “preclearance” requirements by which the Act ensures that states do not deny or abridge the right to vote. The decision removed the central tool by which the Voting Rights Act had, for decades, protected communities who have long been disenfranchised and held out of exercising the most fundamental right in our country. Earlier this month, in Allen v. Milligan, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s racially gerrymandered 2021 voting map violated Section 2 of the VRA and was overturned. Prior to the Shelby decision, Alabama was subject to Section 4 of the VRA and thus would have required this map to be cleared by the Department of Justice, which could have prevented it from going into effect in the first place. 

In the decade since the Shelby decision, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to restrict voting access, including at least 150 bills this year alone. 

Both the House and Senate are expected to reintroduce the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the Freedom To Vote Act, which would expand and protect the public’s access to fair and free elections and reign in corporate polluters’ destructive influence on our elections and law-making.

In response, Sierra Club Democracy Program Director Courtney Hight and Alabama Chapter Chair Joi Travis issued the following statement:

“In the 10 years since the Supreme Court first weakened one of our nation’s bedrock civil rights laws through their ruling in Shelby v. Holder, we’ve seen states across the country - including Alabama - once again abuse their power to make it harder for Black people, people of color, young people, and others to exercise their fundamental freedom to vote. Most recently, the Supreme Court struck down the racially discriminatory voting maps the Alabama legislature drew - maps that were only made possible by the Supreme Court weakening the Voting Rights Act 10 years ago.

“By eliminating most of the VRA’s preclearance requirements, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court re-opened the door to persistent racial discrimination at the polls. This grave disservice harms everyday Americans, our communities, our democracy, and our country. We must right this wrong. Every American’s right to vote must be protected and upheld --  no matter their race, their zip code, or their income. We call on Congress to swiftly pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act to protect and expand the VRA and ensure all Americans have equitable access to the ballot and their right to vote protected.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit