House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at a press conference today on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act. Below are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
"Today's ruling is a disappointing blow to voting rights in America and will have a real impact on voters.
"In 2006, this Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in a bipartisan fashion and under a Republican president. There was a broad consensus then -- as I believe there still is today -- that Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act were both responsible and necessary answers to the lingering problems of discrimination at the ballot.
"In America, no state or local authority should be able to make it easier for some people to vote and harder for others. In America, nobody should have to march for their most fundamental right -- the right to vote.
"John Lewis and I have marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge ten times together to memorialize how much work it took to get the Voting Rights Act passed and highlight its relevance and importance to this day. The first time he marched, he nearly lost his life in defense of voting rights.
"The ballot is the instrument by which our republic is sustained, and Congress has a duty to protect ballot access and expand opportunities for all eligible Americans to vote and have their votes counted accurately.
"Today's ruling is a setback, but Congress still has a mandate -- and a responsibility under the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution -- to secure and protect the franchise for all Americans. I quote: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.'
"The 113th Congress must make addressing today's unfortunate decision a top priority, and that's why Democrats and Republicans ought to come together to begin a process that ensures political jurisdictions with a history of discrimination cannot impose new barriers to ballot access."