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Saperstein: "We call on Congress to immediately take up and pass a new formula to ensure that jurisdictions that continue to implement discriminatory voting practices are prevented from doing so."
June 25, 2013, Washington DC - In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We are extremely disappointed by today's Supreme Court decision in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder. Today's ruling that found Sec. IV of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional effectively overturns the nation's longstanding commitment to protecting the voting rights of all citizens.
The Voting Rights Act has been renewed four times since 1965, most recently in 2006 when it passed the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities and was signed by President George W. Bush. Yet today the Court overturned the formula that has been applied to prevent discriminatory voting measures. We call on Congress to immediately take up and pass a new formula to ensure that jurisdictions that continue to implement discriminatory voting practices are prevented from doing so.
Congress must act as quickly as possible. In the meantime, while a cloud hangs over Sec. IV and V, civil rights groups can look to Sec. II to attack clearly unconstitutional infringements on voting rights. In the long run as well, more assertive litigation can be pursued in a broader range of localities to combat voter suppression legislation at the state and local level.
We are particularly proud that the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were crafted by civil rights leaders in the Religious Action Center's building, which has long been a hub of social justice activity in the nation's capital. Our decision to join the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on an amicus brief in support of maintaining the VRA as recently renewed with bipartisan support similarly reflects our commitment to ensuring the voting rights of all Americans. Today's decision only serves to strengthen that commitment.