Reading List

The following is our recommended Reading List.  Our list compiles select writings by leading academics, organizers, journalists, and litigators on topics relevant to the Right to Vote Initiative, including right-to-vote amendment language and the history of the right to vote and race.  We update this list regularly.

January 29, 2018

What’s the best way to fix our broken democracy? Lean on state courts and constitutions LA Times Jan. 23, 2018

“The U.S. Constitution is less specific. It instead says that states cannot discriminate in voting based on various characteristics such as race, sex, age or inability to pay a poll tax. And the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states must confer voting rights on an equal basis under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. But nowhere does the U.S. Constitution affirmatively grant the right to vote.”

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By Jesse (Rev.) Jackson Sr. | December 5, 2017

JACKSON: Right to Vote Needs Constitutional Protection Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 18, 2017

“The right to vote is central to the legitimacy of any democratic system. Yet in the United States Constitution there is no federal right to vote. Voting rights are determined by the states. And in the states we witness a fierce struggle between those who seek to suppress the vote and those who seek to protect and extend it.”

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By Jon Grinspan | November 9, 2017

The Right to Vote Is Never Safe N.Y. Times, Nov. 4, 2017

“The Voting Rights Act allowed the federal government to work to close the gap between theoretical rights and real participation for black Southerners. . . . The Cold War abroad, and low levels of partisanship at home, gave Americans reason to tell themselves an easy fable about a stable, broadening democracy. But this period was unusual, and the longer-term trend of volatile voting rights has re-emerged in the 21st century. Americans are again debating the right to vote, and focusing on state voting laws, in ways we haven’t for nearly a century.”

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By Peggy Cooper Davis | May 28, 2017

“Who Are We The People?” Pamphlet (Nov. 2016)

Prepared by Professor Peggy Cooper Davis and her students in the Constitutional Personhood Project at NYU Law for use during a 2016 Teach-In with Bob Moses of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), this pamphlet sets forth the historical context for understanding the right to vote.  Learn more about the Teach-In here.

“In slavery, black people were treated as property without rights, without privileges, without personhood.  In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), the Supreme Court endorsed this practice when it held that black people had no rights that government was required to respect.  African Americans were not Constitutional People, the Court said, but Constitutional Property.  Black and white Union soldiers fought a Civil War against Confederate secessionists to end the practice of treating human beings as property.  With Union victory, the Nation was reconstructed to guarantee human equality and dignity.  Since Reconstruction, the Nation has struggled to define and secure the Constitutional Personhood of every man, woman, and child.  At the heart of that struggle is the right to vote.”

By Gilda Daniels | March 17, 2017

Unfinished Business: Protecting Voting Rights in the Twenty-First Century 81 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1928 (2013)

Professor Gilda Daniels reviews recent assaults on the right to vote in the post-Shelby era and suggests a path forward.

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