Transcript: Leadership Conference President Wade Henderson’s remarks on the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Partial transcript of remarks by Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, 2013:

Good morning. Voting is the language of democracy. If you don’t vote, you don’t count. And so today, American democracy suffered a blow.

We are obviously disappointed that a narrow and activist segment of the Supreme Court has turned its back not only on the contemporary problem of voter suppression in America but on the history that brought us the point we are today.

Fortunately, a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress responded to that history in 2006 and reauthorized a Voting Rights Act that was strong and meaningful under the power…of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Today, the court upheld the constitutionality of the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act but they have challenged us yet again to go back to Congress to demonstrate once again that the evidence is clear and irrefutable that voting discrimination occurs today in the United States and must be addressed to respond to the demands of a healthy democracy.

We are very confident that members of both houses of Congress, who helped lead the efforts in 2006 – many of whom are still there, will respond to those challenges and will help to restore the power of Section 4.

And one last point, this is the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington. The march on Washington was the game-changer of the political moment in time and because of that catalytic role of the march, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act became law. We will use this anniversary not just to commemorate the history of what ultimately brought America to this day but to rekindle our commitment to ensure that every person regardless of their race or economic circumstance is given the full privilege of citizenship in this country that the Constitution guarantees.

So while we’re angry and disappointed, we are inspired to respond to the challenge with the kind of force and impact that the art of justice that Justice Ginsburg referred today in Dr. King’s speech will once again reign over this land.

Thank you very much.

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