Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2013
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

ELLIS: Supreme Court OKs Jim Crow Voting Laws
"21st Century Plessey v. Ferguson" guts Voting Rights Act, endangers voting rights for millions

(Austin, Texas) // Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today blasted the US Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act and endanger the voting rights of millions of Americans.

The Supreme Court declared Section 4 - which determines the criteria for which states and jurisdictions are subject to preclearance of voting laws by the US Justice Department of federal court-- unconstitutional. This ruling means that discriminatory voter ID laws and racially gerrymandered redistricting maps are now permissible across Texas and the entire United States.

"It is an outrageous and nonsensical ruling," said Ellis. "I don't know what America those five Supreme Court justices are living in to be able to pretend that deliberate and blatant attempts to disenfranchise people of color at the ballot box do not exist. This is Plessey v. Ferguson for the 21st century and will go down in history as one of the most wrong-headed and out-of-line decisions of the modern era."

While the decision guts the Voting Rights Act, it does permit Congress to re-enact the preclearance regime by simply enacting a new formula that complies with the Roberts decision. The Voting Rights Act was most recently reauthorized in 2006 - 390-33 in the GOP House and 98-0 in the GOP Senate - and signed by President George W. Bush.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature approved so-called voter ID legislation that will make it significantly more difficult for potentially over one million eligible Texas voters to exercise their right to vote. The legislation established some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. The law -- opposed by groups ranging from AARP to MALDEF to the NAACP and LULAC -- requires voters to show picture identification in order to vote. The racially-discriminatory redistricting maps passed in 2011 could now be put into effect.

"I hope that the US Congress will immediately revamp the Voting Rights Act to create a formula which takes into account current and historical discrimination and bias while meeting the requirements the Supreme Court has set out," said Ellis. "Congress must act now to protect the voting rights of millions of Americans."

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