WASHINGTON – In response to the Supreme Court decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee regarding Arizona’s racially discriminatory voting laws and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference on American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement institutions:
“The right to vote in safe, free, and accessible elections is fundamental to the promise of American democracy. We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision upholding Arizona voting laws that have made it particularly difficult for Latinx, Native American, and Black voters to make their voices heard in elections. This decision jeopardizes Arizonans’ and all Americans’ right to vote.
“The Supreme Court not only upheld Arizona’s policies – it did further damage to the Voting Rights Act. The Court’s decision acknowledged the barriers that discriminatory laws create for voters even as it made it significantly harder to challenge voting laws under Section 2. As a result, voters across the United States, especially Black, Latinx, and Native American voters, will continue to face more barriers than white voters to making their voices heard in local, state, and federal elections. We were pleased to join an amicus brief to the Court affirming the importance of equal voting access because racism has no place in our election laws. Now, Congress must act quickly to restore protections to the right to vote.
“Jewish tradition teaches us that the selection of leaders is not a privilege but a collective responsibility. Rabbi Yitzchak taught that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). Today’s ruling must inspire a greater commitment to ensure the freedom to vote for every American.
“The fact that Arizona’s discriminatory and burdensome voting laws are allowed to stand underscores the importance of passing federal legislation to protect every American’s freedom to vote so that our elections reflect the voters’ will. Arizona voters will continue to suffer under these laws until Congress finds the courage to act. As many states move to enact new, deliberate barriers to the ballot box we cannot allow our fundamental right to vote to be undermined. Congress must pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act help bring an end to discriminatory voting laws.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the social justice office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass approximately 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.RAC.org for more.