House Administration Democrats React to Voting Rights Act Decision
June 25, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) Democrats on the Committee on House Administration expressed profound disappointment in response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Though the decision upheld Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the court invalidated Section 4, a cornerstone of the landmark civil rights legislation. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, States and localities with histories of keeping racial minorities away from polls on Election Day are required to seek preclearance with the federal government before altering or creating any election laws. Section 4 contains the formula for determining the covered states. By invalidating Section 4, the court has dramatically weakened the effectiveness of the VRA.
“The Voting Rights Act has been an essential tool for fighting injustice since the Jim Crow era, and has protected the voting rights of all Americans to this day,” said Ranking Member Robert A. Brady. “The Court’s drastic decision guts this law and undermines the integrity of future elections. Congress must take immediate, decisive, bipartisan action to ensure no one’s voting rights are endangered as a result of this ruling.”
“While we have made great strides in protecting our citizens’ fundamental right to vote, we must continue to ensure that our elections are fair and transparent, and that eligible citizens are never denied the right to cast their ballot,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA). Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the preclearance formula in Section 4 is a blow to the 1965 Voting Rights Act and puts the votes of many citizens living in traditionally discriminatory areas at risk. It is crucial that we protect the cornerstone of our democracy, the ability to elect our representatives at all levels of government.”
“This decision is disappointing because the Supreme Court used the Voting Rights Act’s success to justify striking this key section down, even as it acknowledged that voting discrimination still exists today,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). “Every eligible citizen is entitled to their Constitutional right to vote free from artificial barriers or hurdles. It’s a bedrock principle we reaffirmed through careful bipartisan work in the Judiciary Committee when Congress last renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006. Congress now has a responsibility to take this matter up again, as the Court suggests it should, to ensure that spirit is reflected in the law so no one is disenfranchised from their fundamental right to vote.”
“The Voting Rights Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support, last renewed under a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Bush,” said Ranking Member Brady. “I look forward to working with Ranking Member Conyers, and all Members on the House Judiciary Committee, to create a bipartisan solution that preserves this important legislation and the protections that it ensures.”