Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fate of the Voting Rights Act rests with the SCOTUS

The Roanoke Times has an Editorial in today's edition about the upcoming oral arguments challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Our nation has made significant progress in the area of protecting minority voting rights since 1965. After working to get a social justice agenda passed in the Virginia General Assembly, specifically the Republican controlled House of Delegates, the striking down of the "preclearance" requirement would open a door to a past that I hoped was shut forever in Virginia. This requirement refers to Virginia and six other southern states (plus Alaska and Arizona), along with specific counties and towns in seven other states with poor civil rights and voting rights records.

Virginia's record of disenfranchisement continues today. Examples of this range from defeats of legislation for no-excuse absentee voting and in-person voting to restoration of voting rights for certain felons in the Republican controlled House of Delegates during the 2009 General Assembly session. The laws these two pieces of legislation would change have been in place for a long time and are designed to justify suppression of minority voter participation. Recently, while not voting rights related, CNN reported on a Southern Poverty Law Center study that concludes "Low-income Latinos are routinely discriminated against in the South." While this is specific to Latinos, it is clear the practice of discrimination and marginalization is still the way things are done by those in power in the South.

What should be done if the Supreme Court of the United States strikes down the "preclearance" requirement of the Voting Rights Act?

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