Transcript: NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill’s remarks on the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Partial transcript of remarks by Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, 2013:

Good morning, everyone. My name is Sherrilyn Ifill. I’m the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and I am joined by my colleague, Ryan Haygood.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as you know, is one of the nation’s leading civil rights law organizations. We have worked on voting rights issues since the Voting Rights Act was enacted and, in fact, even before, and we are part of the team that litigated the Shelby County case. We argued the case on Feb. 27th before the Supreme Court. We represent black voters in Shelby County, Alabama.

It goes without saying that we are deeply disappointed by the court’s decision today. Make no mistake about what has happened. The court has decided that it stands in a better position than Congress to determine how to protect voting discrimination.

The 15th Amendment to the Constitution makes clear that it is Congress that has that power, and in 2006 when the Voting Rights Act was up for reauthorization, Congress exercised that power responsibly and in a bipartisan manner. Over 9 months, they held hearings. They accumulated 15,000 pages of testimony. They looked at all the evidence involving voter discrimination in the jurisdictions that had been covered by Section 5, and they determined that the same coverage formula that had been used for Section 5 needed to be extended.

And now the Supreme Court has said that that coverage formula is unconstitutional.

We believe that Congress is in a better position than the Supreme Court to determine how voting discrimination plays out in this country.

We’re disappointed but now the ball is in Congress’s court. We should be turning our attention and our cameras across the street because it’s now Congress’s time to do what it has done so many times in the past – come together, Republicans and Democrats – to reauthorize, to enact, or to amend the Voting Rights Act to ensure the protection of minority voters in this country. This is a critical issue of democracy. This speaks to the very core of American values.

This decision by the court today is a game-changer and leaves virtually unprotected minority voters in communities all over this country.

I hope that when you’re reporting on this case, you will remember that your focus and your attention should not be on Washington. Your focus and your attention should be on the town councils and school board districts and the county commission districts and the water districts and the utility districts all over this country, particularly in the south where minority voters struggle to have their voice heard and to be able to participate equally in the political process.

This is a critical day for democratic participation in America. We will not soft soap it. This is a real threat. But we believe strongly that Congress can fix it. The Supreme Court in its decision has said that Congress can fix it, and we demand that Congress get to work, come together, find a formula that will respond to the Supreme Court’s concerns but that will ensure that minority voters in this country continue to have their voting rights protected and continue to be able to participate equally and fully in the political process.

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One Comment on “Transcript: NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill’s remarks on the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

  1. Pingback: Transcript: AG Eric Holder's remarks on the Supreme Court's decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act | What The Folly?!

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