The nation’s leading LGBT advocacy groups on Tuesday expressed disappointment in today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, a decision deplored by the White House but cheered by mostly Southern states now free from nearly 50 years of intense federal oversight of their elections.
Split along ideological and partisan lines, the justices voted 5-4 to strip the government of its most potent tool to stop voting bias — the requirement that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, get Washington’s approval before changing the way they hold elections.
“We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling,” the advocacy groups said, in a joint statement.
“Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.
“These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.
“Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority of conservative, Republican-appointed justices, said the law’s provision that determines which states are covered is unconstitutional because it relies on 40-year-old data and does not account for racial progress and other changes in U.S. society.
The statement was signed by more than a dozen groups, including the Center for Black Equity, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Immigration Equality Action Fund, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, PFLAG, and Pride at Work.