Document Type


Publication Date



The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been described as the "crown jewel" of the Civil Rights Movement. The success of the Act to remove official obstacles to voting is undeniable, and the influx of African American voters into the political system changed the nature of politics in the United States at all levels. The political and cultural context has changed so greatly that in 2006, it was politically possible for the President Bush's Justice Department to bring the first claim against an African American for violating the voting rights of white citizens. This article seeks to explain how this suit was possible by the opening up of "enforcement space" on the Justice Department's agenda. The article also warns that African American politicians today should be concerned that traditional methods of proving discriminatory intent under the Voting Rights Act could be perversely harmful by allowing statements made during the civil rights era to be used against them in a Voting Rights Act suit.