Voting Rights Act Challengeby Representative Robert C. "Bobby" Scott
Posted on 2013-02-15
SCOTT of Virginia asked and was given permission to address the
House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, our right to vote is the very
foundation of our democracy. In passing the Voting Rights Act, Congress
relied on an extensive record of discrimination in voting.
Section 5 is one of the act's most important provisions. It requires covered jurisdictions to submit planned changes in their election laws to Federal officials and judges for prior approval. The areas covered by section 5 were covered the old-fashioned way--they earned it--by implementing poll taxes, literacy tests, gerrymandered election districts, and other schemes.
If the Supreme Court invalidates section 5 in its upcoming decision in Shelby County v. Holder, it would essentially allow jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to implement any discriminatory voter scheme and to then place the burden on the victims to raise the money to bring a lawsuit and to, meanwhile, suffer under the discriminatory scheme until the Court rules. Then, without section 5, those same jurisdictions could create another scheme and repeat the whole process.
Mr. Speaker, at a time when America has staked so much of its international reputation on the need to spread democracy around the world, we must ensure its vitality here at home and preserve section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.