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Rush Responds to the Supreme Court Decision to Strike Down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act


Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Bobby L. Rush released the following statement today on the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act:

"Today, the Court issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the constitutional challenge to the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. I disagree with the Court's decision to overturn Section 4, which essentially undoes the critical protections of Section 5.

"From the very birth of our country voting has been a cherished right for which many have fought. In 1965, the United States embarked upon the path of voting equality when Congress passed and President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

"In the decades since, the Voting Rights Act has protected ballot-access for the disenfranchised. In recognition of the gains achieved by the Voting Rights Act and in an effort to expand safeguards for eligible voters Congress, has renewed this law four times. Most recently, in 2006, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act on a strongly bipartisan basis, under a Republican president, making the determination that Sections 4 and 5 were not only still relevant, but essential to protecting all Americans' right to vote. Under the Supreme Court's ruling today, that is no longer possible.

"The Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional and can no longer be used as federal policy. Although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect unless and until Congress enacts a new statute to determine what jurisdictions should be covered. It is incumbent upon Congress to look carefully at our voting system and devise a coverage formula for preclearance that will protect every American's equal access to the ballot and ensure that minorities are not subjected to discriminatory practices by state or local authorities, and ensure that the United States Department of Justice has all the tools it needs to prevent unjust voting practices from being implemented.

In light of today's ruling, I call upon Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and all of my colleagues to come together and act swiftly. We cannot and must not allow our country to return to the days of disenfranchisement of its citizens. That is the only way we can ensure that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

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