July 2, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Bob Casey said the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, “gutted” the act. Both he and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued statements calling for quick action to restore the stricken part of the act, which determines which areas of the country need preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice before making major changes to voting procedures.
Casey’s statements called on Congress to expedite consideration of legislation that would reinstate Section 4. In a conference call, Casey discussed Section 4’s history and the need to enact strong laws that protect Americans’ right to the vote.
“The Supreme Court’s decision was a blow to equal access to the vote,” Senator Casey said. “I’m calling on Congress to immediately come together on a plan that would restore voter protections and ensure all Americans have equal protections when it comes to voting. In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in a nearly unanimous fashion. It’s time for Congress to come together in that same bipartisan spirit and fix this egregious ruling. Countless Americans fought and some died to secure the protections in the Voting Rights Act. We can’t just honor those courageous actions in words, we must also come together to make sure those protections are a staple of our laws,” he said.
In her statement Gillibrand said, “We must be clear: The Voting Rights Act is not ancient history. Just last year alone, Section 5 helped prevent discrimination across the country—on issues ranging from state IDs to redistricting and reducing early voting. Voting is a sacred right and ensuring that every vote counts is a cornerstone of our democracy that must be embraced by both sides of the aisle.
“The last time Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it was passed for the fourth time with sweeping bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress. We must come together once again to ensure that every American has the fundamental right to vote regardless of which community they live in.”
Many analysts, however, are predicting that it will be virtually impossible for Democrats to convince enough Republicans that the Voting Rights Act is worth fixing.
In a related development, since the SCOTUS ruling, of the nine states that were formally required to receive pre-clearance, five have since introduced new stricter voter identification laws or are moving forward to implement them. According to a story on the Frontline website (www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ) those states are Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.