A Shameful Decision on Voting by the Supreme Court

(And What We’re Going To Do About It)

By Sherrilyn A. Ifill (AFRO.com Contribution) | 7/3/2013, 4:29 p.m.
The Voting Rights Act has been described as the “crown jewel” of civil rights legislation. Its passage was secured with ...
Sherrilyn A. Ifill is the President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).

Just as an example of how emboldened southern jurisdictions are likely to become, within hours of the decision, the Attorney General of Texas said on twitter that Texas’ then-pending voter i.d. law, which has been called the most onerous in the nation and that is currently in litigation under section 5, will be enforced “immediately.” Officials from other southern jurisdictions followed suit, announcing plans to impose voting practices that would have been outlawed by section 5 of the Act before the Court’s decision. Without section 5, we will have to file costly and time-consuming litigation. Local jurisdictions will be able to go forward with discriminatory voting changes while we wait for court rulings.

Now we have to act. The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund has been fighting voting discrimination for more than 50 years, and we won’t stop now.

  1. If you live in the South or in a jurisdiction formerly covered by section 5, tell us about any voting changes happening in your community. The Court struck down section 4 of the Act and in effect removed the power of Section 5, but the rest of the Act still provides protections for minority voters. The Voting Rights Act is not dead. But without section 5, you are our eyes and ears. Go to our website at www.naacpldf.org to “Take Action,” email us at vote@naacpldf.org, or call the Election Protection hotline shared by national civil rights groups at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
  2. Call your representative in Congress and tell them that they must fix the Voting Rights Act. Tell them they must act now to restore protections to minority voters in the south.
  3. Organize your plans this summer to join us for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on August 24th in Washington, D.C. We need a massive mobilization to show America that we will not go back on voting rights. Contact the National Action Network at http://nationalactionnetwork.net/mow/ for more information.

We can win this. But to win, we will need to be in the courts, in the streets, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress. Starting now.

*Sherrilyn A. Ifill is the President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). LDF represented black voters in Shelby County, Alabama in the case decided by the Supreme Court this week. Find us at www.naacpldf.org Twitter Sifill_LDF

(a version of this article initially appeared in TheRoot, an online publication of the Washington Post)