ADL: Voting Rights Act Decision “A Major Setback to Civil Rights”

New York, NY, June 25, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) “a major setback to the progress we have made in civil rights over the last 50 years.”

In 2006, Congress extended the VRA – one of the most important and effective civil rights laws ever passed – for another 25 years.  The law required certain states and counties with a history of discriminatory voting practices to “preclear” changes in voting laws with the federal government.  Today, in Shelby County v. Holder, a sharply divided Supreme Court effectively eviscerated a key provision of the statute.

Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

This decision is profoundly disappointing and is a major setback to the progress we have made in civil rights.  For almost 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has protected minority voters, helping to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, ethnicity, or national origin, can exercise their constitutional right to vote.  This ruling threatens much of the progress that has been made. 

The Court has ignored extensive congressional findings of ongoing election discrimination and substituted its own view that a muscular VRA is no longer needed.  We certainly hope that one day the protections of the Voting Rights Act will no longer be necessary and that all eligible voters will be able to vote, free from discriminatory barriers.  Unfortunately, that day has not yet come.

Congress must act swiftly and decisively to protect voting rights and address the persistent threat of racial discrimination.  We will work with our coalition partners, urging Congress to set aside partisan differences, as they did in 2006, and come together to protect the voting rights of all Americans.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, of which ADL was a founding member, filed an amicus brief in this case on behalf of all its member agencies.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.