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Norton Says Voting Rights Act Formula the Supreme Court Nullified Today Worked, but Accepts the Challenge to Revise it

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following statement on today's Supreme Court Voting Rights Act ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.

"In its Voting Rights Act ruling today, the Supreme Court threw a wild pitch, but it landed in both chambers of the Congress. I was relieved when the 5-4 conservative majority left standing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires mostly southern states to submit changes in voting laws to the Justice Department before they can become effective. But, Section 5 pre-clearance of such laws cannot be used without its Section 4 formula, which the Court declared unconstitutional today. Yet the Section 4 formula worked. Its documented track record shows that numerous laws that were designed to keep minorities from voting were stopped, and 200 jurisdictions have already succeeded in being discharged from the Section 5 pre-clearance requirement. The Court said the formula used outdated data even though the evidence showed numerous examples of its effectiveness, such as the change in the voting place of some Native Americans in Alaska to another one reachable only by air or sea.

"The Court invited Congress to revise the formula, a challenge we must accept. When we overwhelmingly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act during a Republican Congress, in 2006, the entire Republican and Democratic leadership and many members of Congress, in an unprecedented press conference, stood on the steps of the Capitol to declare their pride in extensive hearings, a 15,000-page record showing evidence of continuing voting discrimination, and passage of the reauthorized Voting Rights Act. We saw real-time proof of the continuing need for the Voting Rights Act during the 2012 elections, where there were attempts to suppress the minority vote in the Section 4 covered states and throughout the country. A formula can and must be found. Congress now must live up to its statements of strong support of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and repair Section 4 to preserve the right to vote for millions who have it today only because of the Voting Rights Act."


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