Statement on Shelby County v. Holder
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Today, the Supreme Court made headlines with its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court’s majority, recognized that “voting discrimination still exists” and upheld the vast majority of the Voting Rights Act of 1964. But the Court struck down the decades-old coverage formula that determined which states must seek approval from the federal government before changing their voting laws. In doing so, the Court called upon Congress to modernize voting laws for the 21st century.
As President Barack Obama recognized earlier today, this decision mandates immediate action. Norman Ornstein, renowned political scientist and Why Tuesday? board member, explained, “This decision creates a major challenge. Congress has the tools not just to fix the Voting Rights Act, but to reform our voting systems more broadly. In both 2002, with the Help America Vote Act, and in 2006, with the most recent reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, broad bipartisan majorities joined to create a better and fairer voting system. The only question is whether our political leaders are ready to maintain the great American tradition to do it again.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson and the 89th Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in a matter of weeks. We are currently just weeks away from the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for civil rights. When will there be a better time for our elected officials to once again put democratic values above party politics? In the tradition of those heroes of the civil rights era, today’s political leaders must stop seeing red or blue and focus on the red, white and blue that has made America the beacon of democracy.
Ambassador Young, the Chairman of Why Tuesday?, heralded today’s decision as a clarion call to Congress to fix our antiquated voting system. “When other things are broken or obsolete in our society, we find solutions. No one can tell me that, in a nation built on innovation, we can’t once and for all upgrade our voting system. We should be marching on Washington on August 28, 2013, right after President Obama has signed the VRA 2.0 into law.”