A group of 20 LGBT organizations sent out a joint statement today "expressing acute dismay" at the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act:
Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.
We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.
These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.
Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality Action Fund
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG – Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
In related news, Attorney General Eric Holder threatened to come after any state or local government that seeks to exploit the ruling and discriminate against the rights of voters, TPM reports:
“The Department of Justice will continue to carefully monitor jurisdictions around the country for voting changes that may hamper voting rights,” Holder said. “Let me be very clear: we will not hesitate to take swift enforcement action — using every legal tool that remains available to us — against any jurisdiction that seeks to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling by hindering eligible citizens’ full and free exercise of the franchise.”
The Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated Section 4 of the historic 1965 law, eliminating a critical tool for the federal government to proactively snuff out discriminatory voting laws. The provision required specific state and local governments with a history of voter discrimination, as determined by Congress, to seek federal preclearance before making any changes to their voting laws. The administration retains the ability to sue to block voting laws after they take effect.
Texas appears to be moving on the ruling immediately:
Within two hours of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, Greg Abbott, the attorney general for the state of Texas, announced that a voter identification law that was blocked last year by the Justice Department would go into effect.
“With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” he said in a statement. “Redistricting maps passed by the legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”