U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement Tuesday after the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in the case of Shelby County v. Holder.
"Today's Supreme Court decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is deeply disappointing. The Court has taken the legs out from underneath the Voting Rights Act, making it impossible for the Department of Justice to enforce the critical civil rights protections afforded under Section 5. Free and fair access to the ballot box is fundamental to our democracy, so this provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been a key foundation of progress in many states across our country.
"Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is what made it possible for the Department of Justice to intervene and stop 10 discriminatory election practices from going into effect just last year, and to prevent countless other discriminatory changes from even being proposed. Every day that our nation goes without a replacement formula under Section 4, voters in areas still subject to discriminatory practices will lack crucial protections. Congress must quickly adopt a new formula sufficient for restoring them.
"The good news -- if there is good news -- is that the framework of the Voting Rights Act remains intact. The problem before us now can be solved with bipartisan legislative action, but it will take this Congress coming together to do it. After decades of strong bipartisan support for the Voting Rights Act in Congress, it is my sincere hope that it is possible. I plan to work with Chairman Leahy and an array of experts to study the Court's ruling and do everything possible to advance bipartisan legislation that puts in place a formula that will protect all voters and withstand constitutional scrutiny.
"We cannot simply wish away racial discrimination, and although we have come a long way from the era of Jim Crow, the very real threat of discriminatory voting practices unfortunately remains a fact of life in too many parts of this country. Our country needs common sense, bipartisan legislation to close the floodgates to discriminatory practices re-opened by the Supreme Court today."