President Obama and Democrats in Congress last Tuesday vowed to push to restore protections for the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
It was unclear whether Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, would provide the support needed for any legislative effort to offset the high court ruling, which was denounced by Democrats as a setback for civil rights.
The justices ruled 5-4 that Congress had used obsolete reasoning in continuing to force nine states, mainly in the South, to get federal approval if they made changes in election laws affecting African Americans and other minorities.
The decision once again underscored how Justice Clarence Thomas, the only African American member of the nine-member court, continued to stick with the conservative white majority in decisions that have turned back the clock on African American gains and democratic principles. Tuesday’s decision also recalls how Justice Thomas stands in drastic contrast to his predecessor, Justice Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP legal team that won the Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. Justice Marshall, who died in 1993, was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.
The Supreme Court “put a dagger in the heart of voting rights, said Congressman John Lewis. Rep. Lewis, as a young civil rights activist, was a critical player in winning passage of the law 50 years ago. Now he is among those vowing to restore a law swept away by the high court.
The decision came after recent election cycles in which some states have tried to impose last-minute changes to voting rules. Critics complained those changes were aimed at suppressing the votes of minorities, while backers said they were designed to stop voter fraud, of which there was any evidence.
Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, any state in this country, including Georgia, can impose the most restrictive measures to suppress the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities, and the federal government no longer has power to challenge them or protect our rights. Only Congress can restore our rights to equal protection.
Contact Congressmen Jack Kingston, Savannah office, Phone: (912) 352-0101; Senator Saxby Chambliss at 1-800-234- 4208 and Sen. Johnny Isakson Tel: (770) 661-0999 now. Demand that they act immediately to protect the rights of all citizens to have equal and easy access to the ballot. You should also contact your Georgia state representatives and demand that they do not add further restrictions to voting procedures in Georgia