Rep. Sewell Statement on Supreme Court Decision Upholding Discriminatory Voting Restrictions in Arizona and Weakening the Voting Rights Act
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Brnovich v. DNC to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision and uphold Arizona’s racially discriminatory voting restrictions that target Latino and minority voters:
“Against the backdrop of the most coordinated state-level effort to restrict the right to vote since 1965, the Supreme Court has once again dealt a disastrous blow to the Voting Rights Act, upholding Arizona’s racially discriminatory voter restrictions that target Latino and other minority voters.
“This decision is completely unacceptable and further demonstrates the Court’s hostility to the right to vote freely and without discrimination or fear, a right that keeps the promise of our democracy alive for all Americans. Not only did the Court uphold laws that were designed to disenfranchise minority voters, but it also made it more difficult to challenge such laws in the future, stripping minority voters of one of our last remaining avenues to fight back against discrimination. Today’s decision compounds the damage done in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision by creating more obstacles to challenging voting policies that create barriers to the ballot for minority and underserved populations.
“Our democracy now depends on Congress’ ability to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which I am hard at work crafting with the House Judiciary Committee and stakeholder groups. Without congressional action, this decision will define our efforts to protect the precious right to vote for at least the next decade. We must restore the Voting Rights Act which is the most important civil rights law in our nation’s history. Without it, our democracy is broken.”
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 prohibits laws that have a discriminatory effect on racial minorities. Following the Supreme Court’s disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013 which invalidated section 4 and rendered section 5 unenforceable, section 2 represents one of the last remaining avenues in the Voting Rights Act through which discriminatory voting restrictions can be challenged in court.
In today’s 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court declared that Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy and restrictions on third-party ballot collection did not violate Section 2 of the VRA. The Court found that the restrictions on third-party ballot collection were not enacted with the intent of racial discrimination despite the troubling evidence that Arizona’s legislature passed it with the purpose of discriminating against Latino voters.
In issuing this decision, the Court has made it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting restrictions under what remains of the VRA.