FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Weber/Ben Gerdes
Edwards Statement on Supreme Court’s Ruling on Voting Rights Act
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 5 contains a preclearance provision which was designed to prevent racial discrimination in voting by requiring jurisdictions with a history of such discrimination to receive preapproval from the federal government before making changes to election laws or procedures. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that Section 4 – which sets out the formula for what jurisdictions are covered by Section 5’s preclearance requirement – is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. The Court did not address the constitutionality of Section 5, and left the door open for Congress to draft a new formula for compliance under the preclearance provisions of Section 5.
“This decision solidifies the unfortunate legacy of the Roberts Court -- activist, continuing the unfortunate practice of making law instead of interpreting it. Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has proven to be a pivotal tool in protecting every American’s essential right to vote – no matter their race. Yet, even in the last election, we saw numerous states pass laws making it harder for individuals to vote. Today’s ruling substitutes court judgment for an elected Congress by invalidating the formula used to enforce Section 5.
“The Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 2006, and Congress passed it with large bipartisan majorities in both Houses. Congress must now act again in bipartisan fashion and rewrite Section 4. Republicans and Democrats alike have a responsibility to protect voters from discrimination and ensure every American enjoys the right to vote.”