A slim 5 – 4 majority of the Supreme Court has driven a stake in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This decision was split on political lines, with the five Republican-appointed Justices declaring Section 4 unconstitutional and de facto gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and with the four Democrat-appointed Justices dissenting.
This decision could not have come at a worse time. Republican-controlled state legislatures have shown by passing radical legislation that their strategy for staying in power is to restrict voting rights of African Americans, Latino/as, women, and students. This restrictive legislation, combined with aggressive gerrymandering, is ushering in a new era of Jim Crow voting practices driven by fear of changing demographics and waning public support.
The fundamental responsibility of the Supreme Court is to protect minority rights, especially the most basic right in a democracy: the right to vote. The Court has failed in this responsibility. Ironically, the nation is about to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. The nation’s civil rights, women’s rights, and progressive movements will ensure the dream will never die.###