Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) issued the following statement as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, which challenges the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:
"For decades, the Voting Rights Act has stood as an essential safeguard against racial discrimination in our political system.
"Though we have undoubtedly made progress in the last 47 years, I am sad to say that discrimination still exists. Eliminating Section 5 would effectively hamper our ability to protect the voting rights of minorities at a time when those rights are currently under assault. For example, H.B. 1355, signed into law last May by Florida Governor Rick Scott, created barriers to limit access to the polls for minorities, seniors and college students. Several other states have followed suit, enacting similar laws imposing strict limits on voter registration and requiring government-issued photo identification at polling sites.
"The continued existence of discrimination demonstrates the essential role Section 5 still plays in protecting the rights of minorities. We cannot allow the clock to be turned back on decades of progress.
"We must continue to fight discrimination against minority voters. I remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will recognize the continued importance of the Voting Rights Act and will uphold Section 5."