Transcript: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights President Barbara Arwine’s remarks on the Supreme Court decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Partial transcript of remarks by Barbara Arwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, 2013:

Good morning, everyone. I am Barbara Arwine. I’m the President and the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

I am here today to speak to this decision. I want to say two things straight up about the decision.

One is that it is deeply disturbing because it undermines and puts our democracy at risk. Nothing is more important than ensuring that every single voter is free from racial discrimination and ethnic discrimination in the exercise of their vote. Today’s decision severely undermines the legal protections that have been vital for more than almost 5 decades of protecting voters of all nationalities.

I also want to say the second problem is that this decision is a betrayal of the American people, that there’s nothing more critical than making sure that the highest court of our land gets it right when it comes to what is the appropriate coverage for protecting American people. By striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, by saying that the coverage formula is outdated, the court has in essence misstepped in tremendous proportions. By making that decision when the Congress had 15,000 pages of record that it generated, 21 plus hearings, what else could they have done? They looked at these states that were covered. They looked at the fact that over 80% of all lawsuits involving voting rights have been generated from these states. They looked at the fact that these states account for more than 2,000 plus findings by the Department of Justice and courts that there have been racial violations and their proposed practices and procedures that were stopped by this act. This great preventive stop sign that is Section 5 now has lost one of its arms.

So what we have done today is we have to go forward. We will, of course, go to Congress. We will ask Congress to do everything that it can to come up with a new coverage formula.

We will also have to renew our efforts in the states because what we have seen of all these new voter suppression laws that have come out in the last couple of years really makes it imperative for there to be a great coverage formula to stop these states from the misdeeds that have plagued our democracy for the last number of years.

So I say today to our nation that the fight goes on. I say to our nation that we have to unite like never before to preserve our democracy. And I implore everyone to become active in calling upon their Congress people to pass a new coverage formula.

This court must look to the future. This court must protect every single voter. Thank you.


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