Voting Rights Act (1965)

Violence against civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama led President Johnson to call for strong voting rights legislation that would force states to comply with the Fifteenth Amendment. Legislators in southern states had imposed literacy tests and other requirements that were designed in practice to stop many blacks from voting. The law banned literacy requirements and required states to obtain federal approval on any new voter registration requirements in districts with black populations of more than 5%. The Act also allowed the Attorney General to send federal observers to monitor elections in areas where discrimination was suspected. The Act was later reauthorized on numerous occasions, including a 25-year extension signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006.