Transcript: Civil rights attorney Armand Derfner’s remarks on the Supreme Court decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Partial transcript of remarks by Armand Derfner, civil rights and voting rights attorney, on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, 2013:

This is an outrageous slap in the face of Congress.

Bipartisan Congress several times has recognized that we as a nation are better when all of us – white, black, every color, every ethnicity – are part of the political process and part of our society. And Congress set out to eliminate racial discrimination in voting in the worst places.

The Supreme Court now has said, “Congress, you’re out of bounds because there’s been some improvement.”

But the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment did not empower Congress to simply get the job half done; they said Congress has the power to eliminate – to end – racial discrimination in voting. This Act was on its way to doing that but now the Supreme Court has crippled Congress halfway through.

There’s a precedent for this back in the 19th century – 130 years ago, which was the last time the Supreme Court, in 130 years – this is a new 130-year novelty. But 130 years ago, the Supreme Court said the same thing. Took a civil rights act of Congress and said “No, you don’t have the power to do that.” That decision ushered in three generations of Jim Crow in this country. We don’t expect this decision, thankfully, to bring back Jim Crow but it will destabilize my state, destabilize the country, things that we have gotten used to – used to try to comply with the law with the Constitution, used to try to make efforts to end discrimination. That’s going to be destabilized.

We believe that Congress will step up to the plate as it has done again and again and overcome this truly outrageous and disgraceful decision of today.


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