Press Release - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Civil and Human Rights Coalition Calls Supreme Court Challenge to the Voting Rights Act ‘Deeply Disappointing’
For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Westbrook Simpson, 202.466.2061, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 9, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after the Supreme Court announced Friday that it would hear a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in the case of Shelby County, AL vs. Holder. Section 5 requires states and localities with a history of discrimination to submit changes in their voting process and procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal D.C. district court for approval or "preclearance." The Leadership Conference, along with several of our member groups, spearheaded the historic passage of the VRA in 1965 and each of its subsequent reauthorizations, including the most recent in 2006:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Shelby County case is deeply disappointing given the national consensus around the Voting Right Act’s continuing importance, which was recognized by Congress in 2006 and clearly demonstrated in several recent court decisions.
Over the past year, we have witnessed the most well-funded and well-coordinated assault against the right to vote since Democrats and Republicans first rose above partisan politics to pass the VRA almost fifty years ago. Now is hardly the time to turn back the clock on democracy.
Just six years ago, Congress, with sweeping, bipartisan support, reaffirmed the ongoing need for the VRA by reauthorizing the Act for an additional 25 years.
Why the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed Section 5 of the VRA just three years ago in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, would decide to take this case is beyond comprehension. At that time, the Court recognized that ‘Congress amassed a sizable record in support of its decision to extend the preclearance requirements’ and noted extensive evidence of ongoing racial discrimination in covered states.
Just this year, Section 5 was used to ensure that people of color in Texas and South Carolina would be able to cast votes. If not for Section 5, five Florida counties would have severely restricted early voting.
The Voting Rights Act is among the nation's most successful and transformative civil rights laws. It has been instrumental in the advancement of our democracy. We hope that the Court follows its precedent and our national consensus that the Voting Rights Act is imperative to ensuring democracy for all Americans.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.