DateEventPages referencedActorActionToolsEffectsUncertainty
July 2 1964Civil Rights Act of 1964 Signed Into Law
July 4-5 1964Two SNCC workers arrested for trying to desegregate the Thirsty Boy restaurant, Seventy-one African Americans arrested while attempting to register to vote.Page 15Dallas County Sheriff Jim ClarkTwo SNCC workers arrested for trying to desegregate the Thirsty Boy restaurant, Seventy-one African Americans arrested while attempting to register to vote.Arrest Power
[some time in 1964, perhas still July]Circuit Court issues injunction against gatherings of three or more in SelmaPage 15Circuit Court Judge James HareCircuit Court issues injunction against gatherings of three or more in SelmainjunctionGave legal legitimation to the actions Jim Clark was likely to take regardless.Should a more progressive Sheriff be elected, they could ignore the injunction.
January 2 1965King arrives in Selma to challenge the injunction (in the streets, not the court)Page 16
January 18 1965SNCC and SCLC team up to lead joint voter registration marchesPage 16SNCC + SCLCOrganize African Americans in Dallas County to march down to the Dallas County Courthouse to register to vote.Organizational procedure and leadership structureForce the issue. EIther they will register, and therefore increase the power of the black vote in Dallas County, or they will have to be stopped over and over, day after day, in front of cameras.Other than the fact that the issue will be forced, the possibilities were many, among them that the confrontation would stir up a riot, that they will simply be killed on the spot, and all of it without advancing their cause.
February 1 1965"King and five hundred schoolchildren were thrown in jail."Page 16
February 18 1965Marion protest attacked by Alabama State TroopersPage 16-17200 protestersmarched from Zion United Methodist Church to the Perry County jail to protest the arrest of SCLC worker James OrangeOrganizational procedure and leadership structure
State Troopersattacked the protesters, shot and killed Jimmie Lee Jackson (protester)
March 5 1965King and Johnson meet againPage 17
March 5 1965rough draft of voting rights bill finished by DOJPage 17DOJ Civil Rights Division
March 6 1965SNCC Debates whether to march from selma to MontgomeryPage 17
March 7 1965King sent Young to Selma to cancel the marchPage 19
March 7 1965Bloody Sunday19-20John Lewis, Hosea Williams, 600 othersMarched towards Montgomery from Selma
Alabama State Troopers, Sheriff Jim Clark and his deputiesInflicted violence on the marchers and arrested them
Lafayette SurneyReported minute by minute to SNCC headquarters
March 7 1965ABC Shows footage of Bloody Sunday on prime time TV3ABC Producers (who made this call??)Interrupting a prime time premier of Judgment at Nuremburg to show footage from Selma, because of the fame of the actors in the cast, an estimated 48 million Americans were watching (credible source) (OK source) prime time spot in the big three networks era, film crew on the ground putting together 15 minutes of potent footage, a premiere of a movie with a celebrity cast to draw an even bigger audience, the thematic parallels (was this intentional?)A very well delivered punchline by an expert comedian. The "room," which was public opinion, was completely transformed. A political window of opportunity was created. Page 21: everyone was telling Johnson he was moving TOO SLOW on a voting rights bill
March 8-9 1965"In the forty-eight hours following Bloody Sunday there were sympathy marches in eighty American cities, sit-ins at the Justice Department, twenty-four-hour pickets outside the White House, and all-night vigils at Brown Chapel. Hundreds of white ministers heeded King’s call and descended on Selma, many demonstrating in the civil rights movement for the first time. Fifteen thousand people marched in Harlem; white sisters from the Nuns of Charity in their black habits linked arms with radical black activists from SNCC. In solidarity Wisconsinites walked fifty-four miles from Beloit to Madison, the same distance as Selma to Montgomery. Olympic medalists ran from New York to Washington along U.S. 1 carrying an unlit freedom torch to deliver to the president."20-21
March 8-9 1965 (unclear from text)Federal Court injunction against marching in Selma21Alabama Governor George WallaceSeeking injunction in federal court against a march from SelmaFiling a motionObtained an injunction
Federal courtgranted injunctionInjunction, a statement of the court banning certain actions. Can only be enforced by the exective.Providing formal legal sanction for cracking down on the Selma protesters, but is not self-enforcing.
March 9 1965March to bridge22-23Attorney General Nicolas KatzenbachCalled MLK to talk him out of marchingFailed
MLK and two thousand marchersMarched to bridge, prayed, turned back so as not to violate injunctionForced another confortation with law enforcement but kept to letter of law
Alabama State Troopers, Sheriff Jim Clark and his deputiesAllowed marchers to proceed this timeDid not create the possibility of another national broadcast with violence against the protesters, but also created the impression of having been defeated by the first march
March 9 1965Jim Reeb assaulted23four localsassaulted Jim Reeb, a white Unitarian minister, and his friendsReeb died and suddenly there was a white casualty in the news. This had a different rhetorical impact than the white on black violence (unfortunately).
March 12 1965Johnson meets with civil rights leadersJohnson"The Episcopal bishop Paul Moore, Jr., of New York asked the president why it had taken so long for legislation to reach Congress. “Two reasons,” Johnson replied. “First, it’s got to pass. We can’t risk defeat or dilution by filibuster on this one. This bill has got to go up there clean, simple and powerful. Second, we don’t want the law declared unconstitutional. unconstitutional. This can’t be just a two-line bill, as somebody suggested. The wherefores and therefores are insurance against that.”"
March 13 1965Johnson announces intention to introduce VRA24Johnson
March 15 1965Joint session of Congress25-27, introducing the bill, making the case for it, while 70 million Americans tuned inthe power to introduce bills, the "bully pulpit" of being able to address the joint session in front of camerasBill introduced for Congress to debate, amend, pass or vote down. Rhetorical effects skyrocketed Johnson's popularity, 4/5ths of Americans supported the bill according to a Gallup poll.
March 17 1965March to Montgomery authorized27Judge Frank Johnson(probably the result of Johnson's speech and the general media scrutiny)
March 18 1965First hearings on the VRA in the House30-32House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee Number 5, Emanuel Celler
March 23 1965Senate Judiciary Committee hearings begin32-33Senate Judiciary Committee
March 25 1965KKK murders white activist Viola Liuzzo33 support for bill
March 28 1965Senate votes to limit Judiciary Committee Debate 33Senate vote67-13 vote to limit the Judiciary Committee debate to three weeksmotion to limit debateMade it impossible to kill the bill by eating up time
May 25 1965Senate passes the bill33Senate floor vote73-19 vote to passfloor voteIf House agrees, bill goes to President. If not, Senate and House work to harmonize.
July 9 1965House passes the bill33House floor vote333-85 to passfloor vote
August 5 1965Doar sets aggressive schedule for agents to enforce VRA as soon as the law is on the books37-39Trained 100 agents and gave them field manuals and made them ready to head to the biggest areas of resistance ASAP
August 6 1965VRA signed into law34JohnsonSigns the billrequirement that president sign bills to give them force of lawbill became a statute
August 11-16 1965Watts Riots55, 63RiotersRiotingended the political window that had made VRA possible (but after VRA passed). Radicalized the civil rights movement
August 9 - unclear 1965Federal officials sent to register voters in Selma39-41Timothy Mullis and his staff"The examiners set up registration offices in county government buildings, local post offices, or makeshift trailers if they couldn’t find any other space." "The examiners registered 1,733 voters on day two, easily surpassing in two days the 1,764 black voters who had been registered in the nine counties before the VRA took effect. By the close of business on Friday, 7,000 black voters had been registered, four times as many as were previously on the rolls. That number jumped to 20,000 by August 21, when the Civil Service Commission’s president, John Macy, briefed LBJ at his ranch in the Texas Hill Country."Federal official issuing voter certificates directly, without involving state and local officialsAfrican American voters obtaining paperwork with the force of law. They were on the official voter rolls.
August 11 1965New Orleans parish registrar files lawsuit challenging constitutionality of VRA claiming the 24th amendment only banned poll taxes for federal elections but left states the power to set qualifications for state and local elections43New Orleans parish registrar Albert P. Gallinghouse
August 18 1965injunction preventing six Alabama counties from adding voters to the rolls43George WallaceAsked local probate judge for injunctionfiling a requestreceived injunction
local probate judgefiled injunction against adding voters to rolls in six countiesinjunctionformally calls for federal and state election officials to cease registering in those counties until the matter can be heard in courtfederal agents could simply opt to ignore, but this in turn might embolden local officials to ignore the voter rolls as the means of establishing registration.
October 22 1965South Carolina files suit challening the constitutionality of VRA43filed suit, "alleging that the law “arbitrarily, unconstitutionally and unlawfully” restricted the state’s right to “exercise her sovereign power to prescribe fair and reasonable qualifications for registration of her electorate and the conduct of her elections.”Suit
January 17 - March 7 1966South Carolina v Katzenbach44-46Supreme Courtheard the case directly with no prior appeal from lower courtsDiscretion over what cases to hear including whether to hear cases that have yet to go through lower courtsDispel uncertainty over the Court's stance on the new lawCourt cannot act alone; even if they stake out a strong and consistent stance, an ineffective executive will change the character of the law, and they may in the future be undermined by lower courts, which hear many more cases per year.
Found in favor of KatzenbachCourt majority deciding the winner of the caseVRA provisions remained in force
Affirmed the constitutionality of the VRA tools under litigationMajority opinionSent clear signal of the Court's support for the law and the grounds on which lower courts ought to rule on future cases
March 28 1966Supreme Court struck down poll tax in Virginia46Supreme Court
May 3 1966Alabama Democratic Primaries46DOJThe DOJ set up field offices in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma to monitor the Alabama elections and sent attorneys to twenty-one high-risk counties. The Civil Service Commission dispatched 375 workers as federal observers to seven counties with the worst records of voting discrimination, including Dallas County. Katzenbach sent letters to 4,000 election officials urging them to comply with the law. If there was foul play, the department was going to find it.

Berman, Ari. Give Us the Ballot (p. 47). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.
46Martin Luther King, JrCampaigned throughout Alabama ahead of the primaryDriving turnouthigh uncertainty, no clear way to tell if turnout was influenced by his actions
49Black voters80 percent turnout
49DOJmonitored elections and vote counting
51-52George Wallace led a huge registration drive for whitescampaigning; sent pamphlets to every white high school in the state, set up a commission to encourage registrationsigned up 110,000 new white voters in nine months, Lurleen Wallace absolutely crushed her opponent in the governor's race
49Dallas County Executive CommitteeAt Clark's prompting, rejected six boxes of ballots from black wards in Selma as invalidThe discretion granted over the local party primary to the local party committeeShrink the difference between Clark and Baker small enough to fall below the threshold that requires a runoff electionPractically begged for a response from the DOJ, given the scrutiny, and even then no guarantee Clark would have won the runoff
May 5 196650DOJ files a complaint Filed complaint with Alabama Southern District Court. Judge was out, so drove to Montgomery and found a friendly judge.ComplaintFormally asks judge to take action to counteract the rejection of the ballot boxesJudge could simply deny their request
50Judge Frank Johnsonfiled restraining order against the Dallas County Executive Committee, ordered a trialrestraining order, ability to schedule trialsStopped the primary election results from being certified until the trialUnclear what would have happened if the committee had simply ignored the judge and moved forward
May 18 1966Judge Frank JohnsonRules for the DOJJudge's authority to decide casesThe ballot boxes are validated and make Baker the winner, Clark loses his jobvery very little uncertainty
June 6(?) 1966Allen v. State Board of Elections54Mississippi legislatureChanges the rule from requiring a majority of voters to approve county consolidation to simply requiring two thirds of the legislature, one of 13 changes [see quotes section of draft for specifics, or simply consult pages 54-55]The power to introduce and pass bills which set the procedure for drawing county lines"As a result of the legislative change, the two counties Whitley had won, Claiborne and Jefferson, would be consolidated with larger white counties, effectively ensuring that black candidates would not be elected to office."the DOJ could get involved, the Courts might ultimately rule against the change
Sometime between June 1966 and October 196756-57Civil Rights AttorneysChallenged 3 Mississippi election law changes
October 196756-57Three-judge district court in MississippiRuled against the challengechallengers appealed to the Supreme Court
October 16-17 196857-58The Supreme Courtthree Mississippi cases joined together with one Virginia one to make Allen v. State Board of Elections
March 3, 196958-61The Supreme CourtRuled 7-2 in favor of challengers, that the law changes needed to be submitted for preclearance.
March 3, 1969 district courtson the instruction of the Supreme Court, they issued "injunctions restraining further enforcement of the enactments until such time as the states adequately demonstrated compliance with the approval requirements of the Act."
March 3, 196961Mississippi legislatureSubmitted three challenged law to DOJ for preclearance
March 3, 196961DOJRejected the Mississippi laws
March 1969Hadnott v. Amos76-78The Supreme Court"The Court ruled, 6–2, that the Alabama law, which was similar to the restrictions on independent candidates in Mississippi challenged by Clifton Whitley in the Allen case, was unlawful because it had not been submitted to the federal government under Section 5. The Court ordered new elections for July and instructed a district court in Montgomery to examine whether to hold Herndon in contempt."The power to rule on cases, the contempt powerA new election is called with all the candidates on the ballot.Locals had already defied a direct order from the Supreme Court. Adding the order for the district court to look into holding Herndon in contempt gave it some teeth. Ultimately federal examiners were dispatched to watch the election, ensuring the Court's orders would be followed this time. Hard to say what would have happened without them.
June 19691970 VRA ReAuthorization75NixonIntroduces proposed VRA extension which covered the entire country rather than specific jurisdictions, and removed Section 5 (which included preclearance)the power to introduce legislation, the threat of a vetoSets the terms for the legislative process around the VRA renewalDemocrats control Congress and aren't going to just go along with it. Tons of congressional actors and interest groups highly interested in the outcome of this process. No telling where things will land, but the power of the veto is quite potent, and with southern members of congress it's impossible there'd be a veto-proof majority against him.
July 196981The House Judiciary CommitteeApproved an extension of the existing VRA, ignoring the bill introduced by Nixon.Power to advance a bill through the House internal proceduresBrings a bill closer to a vote. In this case, closer than the President's bill.Many procedural methods of keeping it from making it to a floor vote. Then it's got to clear the Senate, who may have their own version.
Unclear81The House Rules CommitteeApproved the Nixon billPower to advance a bill through the House internal proceduresBrings a bill closer to a vote.Many procedural methods of keeping it from making it to a floor vote. Then it's got to clear the Senate, who may have their own version.
December 12, 196981The HousePassed Nixon's bill 208-203Power to pass billsBrings bill closer to passing. Requires passing in the Senate too, or reconciliation with a Senate version. Then requires president's signature or two thirds of both houses.Could be defeated in the Senate, could be modified in reconciliation, could be vetoed by the president.
Unclear81Senator Hugh ScottIntroduced compromise legislation tat made the ban on literacy tests national but retained section 5 (so covered jurisdictions had to submit for preclearance).power to introduce bills
March 197082Ted KennedyAdded provision making 18-year-olds eligible to vote in federal and state electionscould become a pretext for defeating the bill overall
June 197082SenatePasses their Scott-Kennedy version of the bill 64-12Power to pass billshas to be reconciled with House bill
June 197082HouseConcurs with Senate bill 272-132
June 23 197083NixonSigned VRA Reauthorization into lawPower of the penbill becomes a statuteIt's Nixon's DOJ that has to continue enforcing the law.Important context: "volatile situation" Nixon afraid "goddam country" will "blow up" if he doesn't sign
1971?Civil Rights Division letter leaked to the press86Civil Rights Division LawyersSent letter to superiors protesting the slowdown of integration in Mississippi
Spring 1970Mississippi open primary law87Mississippi legislaturePasses open primary lawpower to pass bills
unclear 197187Civil Rights Division LawyersUrged Jerris Leonard (division head) to reject Mississippi law
unclear 197187Jerris LeonardRecommended allowing the Mississippi law
unclear 1971 court blocks the law
unclear 1971New Section 5 Guidelines 87-88LeonardDrafted new guidelines transferring burden of proof for rejection to the federal governmentJustified a more permissive preclearance policy
unclear 1971Mississippi reregistration law88-89Mississippi legislaturePassed a law making everyone who was registered to vote have to register again
unclear 1971AG MitchellDid not object to the statute
September 1971Section 5 Guidelines Reversed89-90LeonardReversed previous guidelines after pressure from both Congress and the Civil Rights Division lawyers"The number of voting changes submitted by states under Section 5 grew from 110 in 1970 to 333 in 1971 to 1,359 in 1972, and the number of DOJ objections rose from 3 to 14 to 71."
August 6 19751975 VRA Reauthorization109-111House, Senate, President FordAdded jurisdictions, added protections for language minorities, signed into law
October 19711982 VRA Reauthorization135-138The HousePasses 389-24 a bill modifying Section 2
June 18 1982153-155The SenatePassed bill 85-8 with modified Section 2 with effects test, totality of circumstances, and disclaimer that lack of proportional representation was not enough to count as a section 2 violation
June 29 1982155President Reagansigned the bill into law
Bush I Redistricting stuffstarting page 185
Bush II Civil Rights division stuffStarting page 222
2008Shelby v Holder268-270DOJNegated the results of 2008 election in Shelby County
270Shelby County Lawyer Frank EllisChallenges Section 5 in court
February 27, 2013272-275Oral arguments
June 25 2013278Supreme CourtRules Section 4's coverage formula unconstitutionaljudicial reviewsection 5 no longer has teeth, for it applies to no jurisdiction