Number of days after the 2012 election that the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Shelby County, Ala.’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law that aims to protect racial minorities from discrimination at the polls: 3

Number of states covered in whole by the VRA’s Section 5, the target of the challenge, which requires the Justice Department to approve any changes to election rules before implementation: 9

Of those states, number in the South: 7

Number of specific counties covered by Section 5: 57

Of those counties, number in the South: 45

Number of townships also covered by Section 5, all of them in Michigan and New Hampshire: 12

Of the voting rules changes considered by the Justice Department under Section 5, percentage that have been denied: 1

Year in which Congress last authorized Section 5 for another 25 years in an overwhelming vote: 2006

Of the 11 states of the former Confederacy, number that passed voting restrictions since the 2010 election that would make it harder for minority citizens to cast ballots: 8

Date on which the Justice Department invoked the Voting Rights Act to block South Carolina’s new voter ID law from taking effect: 12/23/2011

Date on which a three-judge panel unanimously held that Florida could not slash the period for early voting, citing the Voting Rights Act: 8/16/2012

Date on which another three-judge panel unanimously ruled that Texas’ new state legislative and congressional districts diluted minority voting strength, thus violating the Voting Rights Act: 8/28/2012

Date on which yet another three-judge panel unanimously blocked Texas’ new voter identification law, the strictest in the nation, citing the Voting Rights Act: 8/30/2012

Number of Republican state attorneys general who are supporting Shelby County’s challenge to Section 5, which is financed by the Project on Fair Representation, a Virginia nonprofit also involved in the Supreme Court challenge to affirmative action: 6*

Number of times to date that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the VRA’s Section 5: 4

Date by which the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in the case, titled Shelby County, Ala. v. Eric Holder: 6/2013

* The attorneys general from the Southern states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, as well as those from Arizona and South Dakota.

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Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis joined the Institute for Southern Studies in November 2005 as director of the Institute's Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project to document and investigate the post-Katrina recovery. A former staff writer for the Raleigh News & Observer and Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.), Sue directs and regularly contributes to the Institute's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.