Linda Sánchez Statement on 3rd Anniversary of Supreme Court Shelby County V. Holder Decision
Washington, DC – Representative Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, today released the following statement on the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder:
“Three years ago today the Supreme Court rolled back 50 years of progress with the disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision. This gutted some of the basic protections that give all Americans the right to vote. As a result of the Shelby County decision, 2016 will be the first year since the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, that voters will not have anti-discrimination protections at the ballot box.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen with other Supreme Court decisions, the Shelby County decision was just the beginning of a larger agenda to restrict voting rights to minorities. Since then, conservative state legislatures across the country have passed laws designed to deliberately disenfranchise people of color, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, young adults, and seniors. This year, more than 875,000 Latino voters will suddenly be subject to new voter ID requirements and over 13.1 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots this November without voting rights protections.
“Make no mistake, the Shelby County decision was an attack on the Latino community and the only way our community can stop these constant attacks is to raise our voices, to participate, and most importantly to vote. A core principle of our democracy is the ability for citizens to choose their representatives, not for elected officials to choose their voters. We cannot allow our voices to be silenced and we must do whatever it takes to exercise our right to vote. It is time for Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the VRA and ensure that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box.”
BACKGROUND ON VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT OF 2015
Rep. Linda Sánchez along with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA.) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL.) of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA.), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015. Protections under the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 will extend to all voters nationwide. The legislation targets certain voting practices known to suppress the voting rights of minorities. The bill is the result of collaboration with those at the grassroots who have witnessed the harmful effects that discriminatory voting laws have had in their communities.
BACKGROUND ON SHELBY COUNTY v. HOLDER
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional – essentially gutting the most powerful tool this nation has ever had to stop discriminatory voting practices from becoming law.
Section 4 established the formulas for how the Justice Department enforces Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires states identified with a history of discrimination to obtain preclearance from the Justice Department before making changes to their election law.
This impacted the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; it also impacted parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota. After Shelby County v. Holder, these areas are free to make changes to election law or district maps without approval from the Justice Department.
Following Shelby County v. Holder, state legislatures across the country have been far more active in creating hurdles to the ballot. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at the beginning of the 2016 legislative session, and as of March 25, 2016, at least 77 bills to restrict access to registration and voting have been introduced or carried over from the prior session in 28 states.
And 2016 will see the greatest expansion of barriers in the history of presidential elections with new voting restrictions in place in 17 states. Those 17 states are: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Since 2010, 22 states have implemented new voting restrictions.