The history of racism and politics in the United States is one that involves far more than just discrimination. It is a history of congressional authority, judicial power, and the extent of states' rights. The Supreme Court stands at the heart of the debate. The decisions that they make set the racial precedent for the entire country, and for a while, the precedent that they set did not correct past injustices brought upon the black population. Even though the 15th amendment right to vote was supposed to give blacks more rights that average white citizens enjoyed, the South continued their practice of racial discrimination. Along with the issue of voting rights, racial gerrymandering, defined as the deliberate re-drawing of district boundaries for racial purposes, was a huge issue dealt with by the Supreme Court. Racial gerrymandering exists where race, instead of other redistricting principles, is the legislature's main reason in drawing its district lines.
Racial gerrymandering was first used as a way to avoid implementing the Fifteenth Amendment and therefore continue racial discrimination in the South after the Civil War. In 1876 the Supreme Court made a decision that was a major setback to the citizenship rights of African Americans. In U.S. v. Reese the Court held that the 15th amendment did not guarantee any person the right to vote and that states had the sole power to give voting rights to individuals. .
Voting rights and racial discrimination was also looked at in Grovey v. Townsend (1935), where the Court upheld a resolution adopted by the Texas Democratic Party at its state convention that restricted membership and participation in the party to white citizens of Texas. Based on this resolution, the black plaintiff was denied a ballot in the primary election. The Supreme Court held that the denial of the right to vote in a primary, versus a general election, was merely refusal of party membership and did not violate the Constitution since their was no state action involved.