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Feb 4 / Erin Ferns Lee

Civil Rights Groups File in Support of Key Voting Rights Act Section


President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 while Martin Luther King Jr. and others look on. Photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A coalition of civil and voting rights groups filed an amicus brief in support of upholding an important provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires historically discriminatory states, counties, and jurisdictions to seek federal approval before changing their voting procedures. Later this month, the United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of this cornerstone section of the Voting Rights Act.

Project Vote joins 28 civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and LCCR Education Fund (LCCREF), in filing the amicus curiae brief:

“Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize [Section] 5 of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years and to maintain the existing coverage formula was a reasonable and appropriate exercise of its enforcement authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments,” the brief states.

“The jurisdictions covered by [Section] 5 are places where discriminatory voting practices have historically been severe. While many of these jurisdictions have made substantial progress toward eliminating discriminatory voting practices, the legislative record amassed by Congress–as well as more recent history–shows that these gains are fragile and that discriminatory practices still persist.

“This court should not take the extraordinary step of second-guessing Congress’s determination that [Section] 5 is still needed, given the fundamental nature of the right to vote, the careful deliberation that Congress gave to the matter, and the extensive factual findings on which Congress’s judgement rests.”

Last summer, Project Vote legislative director, Estelle Rogers wrote about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: “One need only review the ‘race-conscious’ rhetoric coming from advocates of strict voter ID and proof of citizenship laws to know that racial discrimination is exactly what they are all about, and that we need preclearance as a check on this dangerous trend as much as we ever have.”

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