Shelby V. Holder and the Voting Rights Actby Representative Barbara Lee
Posted on 2013-02-27
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, today the Supreme Court heard
arguments in Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder. This case presents a
direct threat to Section Five of the Voting Rights Acts of 1965--the
most effective civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed just one year after I graduated high school.
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and I vividly remember the days of Jim Crow, segregation, and the poll tax.
[[Page E198]] Even now, in 2012, discrimination is still haunting us.
It's not in the form of a poll tax, but it's in the cost of waiting in line for 7,8, 9 hours just to vote.
We should be making it easier for everyone to participate in the democratic process, not harder.
We still need the Voting Rights Act.
We still need to be vigilant about protecting our full democratic right to vote.
That right is the heart and soul of our democracy, and we must defend it.
We will not go back.
Should the Supreme Court rule against the Justice Department and overturn this important legislation, minority communities will lose these vital voting protections.
Today, I attended a rally with my colleagues in the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucuses outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are delivered.
Many of us were part of the 390-33 majority--along with 98 Senators--who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
After an exhaustive review that lasted almost a year, including 21 hearings, testimony from over 90 witnesses, and over 15,000 pages of evidence, Congress came to a nearly unanimous decision that protections are still needed to preserve the voting rights of ALL Americans.
After all, it is this right that lies at the very heart of our democracy.
The Voting Rights Act is routinely used to protect voters against efforts to dilute or suppress their vote. Section five is a critical tool to protect Americans whose voting rights continue to be threatened to this day. I am certain that the Supreme Court will uphold the will of Congress, and respect the overwhelming evidence and comprehensive review that led to President George W. Bush reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
Voting is at the heart of our democracy and we must constantly fight to protect it when it is threatened.
We have come a long way because of the work and sacrifice of millions who came before.
We encourage and support democratic movements around the world, yet here in our country these rights are being eroded each and every day.
Far too many have shed their blood and shed their tears.
So we must protect the most valuable right, the most central right, the right that makes America the nation that it is: the right to vote.
I call on every American to stand up and join us in the call to protect the right of every American to cast their vote.
As our great Drum Major for Justice, Dr. King once said: ``Voting is the foundation stone for political action.'' Truly, our votes are the bedrock of democracy. We will not bow to voter suppression. These are our rights. We will not budge.
As we pursue the Founding Father's vision of a more perfect union, I am proud to stand with my Congressional Black Caucus colleagues in defense of this critical tool for our democratic republic.