The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated Section Four of the Voting Rights Act, a key provision that protects voting rights in nine states that historically have had discriminatory voting practices. The decision found that Section Four of the law had an outdated formula that placed undue federal burden on the nine states. Congressman Smith released the following statement after the decision:
"I am very disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act. In the last election, low income voters and people of color, mainly Hispanic and African Americans, waited in line nearly twice as long as white voters. It is clear that we must do more, not less, to protect the rights of all people and ensure we have equal access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in protecting individuals' right to vote regardless of race, ethnic background, or level of income. By striking Section Four, the Supreme Court limited the federal government's ability to implement Section Five, consequently rendering this section of the Voting Rights Act powerless and threatening the right to vote for many Americans. Any state can now implement Voter ID laws and redraw district lines to dilute the voices of large populations of mainly racial and ethnic minorities without federal oversight.
"President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act to fix the disenfranchisement of targeted voters - mainly African Americans. Decades since, the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized and supported by Presidents and Members of Congress of both parties. To ensure a thriving democracy, Congress must come together again to create a new formula that will ensure all Americans have their voices heard at the ballot box. I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that no voter experiences discrimination."
Even with the striking down of Section Four, Congress can still impose a new formula to determine which states' voting practices still need federal oversight. Congressman Smith had previously signed an Amicus brief in support of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act and is a cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act.