You are cordially invited to attend the Harvard Law School Election Law Clinic's

DEMOCRACY: A Harvard Law School Lecture Series

Session 2: The Future of the Voting Rights Act

Monday, October 25, 2021
12:45 PM - 1:45 PM ET
Register Now


DEMOCRACY is a Harvard Law School Lecture Series co-hosted by Guy Uriel-Charles, Ruth Greenwood, Larry Lessig, and Nicholas Stephanopoulos. This six-part series of panel discussions will bring together scholars, lawmakers, activists, and the HLS community to discuss and debate the most pressing issues facing American democracy.


Guest Speakers:

Jessica Ring Amunson '04
Partner, Jenner & Block
Samuel Spital '04
Director of Litigation, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.


Professor Guy-Uriel Charles
Charles Ogletree, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which some commentators have called the crown jewel of the Second Reconstruction, is in peril. In the 2013 case of Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court enjoined the application of one important provision of the statute while sidelining another important part of the Act. Just this past term, in Brnovich v. DNC, the Supreme Court narrowed applied Section 2 of the VRA against a challenge by plaintiffs who claimed that a set of state laws impeded their right to vote free from racial discrimination. This was the first time since the passage of the Act that the Court interpreted Section 2 with respect to a right to vote claim, as opposed to a vote dilution claim. In the meantime, Congress has been unable and unwilling to pass legislation that would respond to these decisions. The questions of race, representation, and political participation raised by the VRA are as pressing as ever. But the future of the VRAis as uncertain as it has ever been. Is the VRA sufficiently robust to respond to the plethora of proposed legislation across that seem to undermine the right to vote free from racial discrimination? Will Congress be able to shore up the parts of the VRA that have been damaged through judicial interpretation and modernize the statute for the 21st century? If the VRA is unable to address our current voting problems, are there other options that voting rights activists can use to protect the right to vote?