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Pingree 'Deeply Disappointed' by Court Ruling on Voting Rights Act

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree expressed disappointment today in a Supreme Court Ruling overturning part of the Voting Rights Act

"I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling today. Congress did the right thing by putting the Voting Rights Act into place in the first place and by reaffirming it time and time again over the last fifty years. Voting discrimination still exists--Congress has repeatedly come to that conclusion and the Supreme Court itself acknowledged it. By gutting the Voting Rights Act, the Court has dealt a major setback for voting rights and the decision will have a real and detrimental impact on voters."

In a 5-4 ruling today, the Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) as unconstitutional. Section 4 identifies state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination, and Section 5 requires them to get approval from the Department of Justice before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures. Congress passed the VRA in 1964, and reauthorized it several times since then, most recently in 2006. In its consideration of that last reauthorization, Congress found overwhelming evidence that discrimination in voting was still a problem in the jurisdictions covered by Section 4 and reauthorized the Act by a vote of 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.

Between 1982 and 2006 the Department of Justice blocked over 700 voting changes based on a determination that the changes were discriminatory, and more than 800 more proposed changes were modified or abandoned after the Department of Justice asked for more information about them.

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