“I am outraged by the Supreme Court’s reckless decision today on the Voting Rights Act,” Bertha Lewis, President of The Black Institute said. “For decades, we have fought tooth and nail to end racial discrimination in this country and ensure an equal right to vote for all Americans. By gutting a key provision in this landmark legislation, the justices have enabled former Jim Crow counties to bring back electoral discrimination and keep black Americans away from the polls.
As we have seen in recent elections, certain state governments are hell bent on passing regressive laws that make it more difficult for minority voters to exercise their fundamental rights. Federal oversight in counties with a history of intolerance and injustice is paramount to preventing voter ID laws and other abhorrent measures from ever taking effect. The Court’s decision to punt this issue back to Congress represents a clear lack of judgment and understanding about the state of our nation’s politics. While our representatives in Washington delay and play politics with this issue, problematic counties will have a blank check to pass restrictive measures to reduce black participation in elections. I am calling on Congress to put aside their petty squabbles and fix this situation before it spirals towards racial discrimination at the polls.”
In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 4 contains the formula used by Congress to determine which areas of the United States require federal oversight in their elections based on a history of racial discrimination at the voting booth. The Court upheld Section 5, which requires these counties with a history of electoral discrimination receive “preclearance” from the federal government before making any changes to their election laws. However, without the formula in Section 4, Congress no longer has a way of determining which counties to oversee. Until Congress passes a new formula, Shelby County and other areas affected by the Voting Rights Act no longer have to gain preclearance in order to make changes to their election laws and procedures.
More Information About The Black Institute:
The mission of The Black Institute is to generate intellectual discourse that will impact public policy from a uniquely Black perspective (a perspective which includes all people of color in the United States and throughout the Diaspora). The Black Institute (TBI) is an “Action Tank” – A think tank that takes action. TBI implores a three-part strategy to affect change constituting: Knowledge (research, data gathering, polling and academic partnerships); Leadership (civic education, training and development); and Community (ground organizing and issue based campaigns). This comprehensive strategy influences the direction of public debate, trains and educates new leadership to develop initiatives to build wealth and power in an effort to deliver justice to Black people and people of color. Although there are many current issues, our four areas of focus are Economic Fairness, Education, Environmental Justice, and Immigration.