ADL to Congress: Set Aside Partisan Politics and Restore Protections of the Voting Rights Act

New York, NY, October 20, 2014 … In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court order permitting Texas’ discriminatory voter ID law to stand, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Congress to act swiftly and decisively to restore the crucial protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

ADL noted that such a law has the potential to prevent more than 600,000 primarily African American and Latino registered voters from casting a ballot at the polls this November, and that this case is not the first time a court has found that the Texas law was enacted with discriminatory intent.

Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair, and Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:

Congress must act now and set aside partisan politics to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act and ensure that all Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote. It is inexcusable that in the United States in 2014, hundreds of thousands of voters - primarily African Americans and Latinos - may not be able to make their voices heard on Election Day.

When the Supreme Court essentially gutted the heart of the VRA in 2013, Justice Ginsburg compared throwing out the formula for Section 5 coverage, which had worked for decades to secure voting rights for all, to throwing out your umbrella in a rainstorm because you’re not getting wet. More than a year later, just as she predicted, we are now in the middle of a storm without adequate protections. In her latest dissent in this Texas voter ID case, Justice Ginsburg wrote that allowing this discriminatory law to go into place is the greatest threat to public confidence in elections. Justice Ginsburg was right in Shelby County and she’s right again today. It is now up to Congress to restore public confidence in our electoral system by reinstating crucial protections of the VRA.

Earlier in October, a federal district court in Texas, after a 9-day trial, issued a 147-page decision permanently rejecting the state’s voter ID law. The court found that more than 600,00 registered Texans lack proper ID for the elections, and that the law would not only have a discriminatory effect on the state’s minority voters, but also that it had been enacted with an intent to disenfranchise African-Americans and Latinos. The judge further found that the law, which requires voters to show identification from a very restricted list of documents that each have underlying costs to obtain, constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. After an emergency appeal, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and later the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect for the 2014 election.

ADL filed a brief in Shelby County v. Holder urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the VRA, commended the Department of Justice for challenging Texas' voter ID law after the decision, and urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act to restore crucial protections for voters.