CAPAC on Third Year Anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder

Jun 24, 2016 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow marks the third year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Nearly three years after the Supreme Court's Shelby decision gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the American people are still waiting for Congress to take long overdue action to restore and guarantee our most fundamental right: the right to vote. Since 2013, we have seen an increase in voter disenfranchisement laws that make it harder for communities of color, youth, and the elderly to participate in our democracy.  This includes complaints of polling locations failing to provide translated ballots that especially hurt those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community – over a third of whom are limited English proficient. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to ensuring that we pass legislation to restore the VRA and ensure that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“The Voting Rights Act made real for millions of Americans their right to vote, but the Shelby County decision three years ago essentially gutted this seminal law. Since then at least 13 states have enacted new laws that made it harder to vote. I will continue to fight to pass legislation that recognizes beyond a doubt that voting is a fundamental right of a free nation.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:

“Since the Supreme Court threw out 50 years of progress in civil rights with its troubling Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder decision three years ago, we have already seen serious acts of discrimination against people looking to exercise one of their most fundamental rights – the right to vote. We must act to restore the protections guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act. The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy. We cannot be the ‘more perfect union’ called for in the Preamble to the Constitution if we put unfair and biased restrictions on people’s right to vote.” 

Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07):

“Ensuring that every American has the right to vote is the very basis of our democracy. Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been one of our nation’s most critical civil rights laws preventing voter discrimination. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder case was a setback for protecting voting rights. That’s why I continue to fight to strengthen the Voting Rights Act and safeguard our democracy by protecting every citizen’s right to vote.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33):

“Three years ago today, the Supreme Court overturned key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder. Since then, 33 states have implemented laws making it difficult for traditionally disenfranchised communities to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. Rather than working to increase the participation of the American people in the democratic process, House Republican leadership continues to push proposals that prevent everyday Americans from exercising their right to have their voices heard. As the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and other minority groups continue to grow, we must restore and protect the American people’s access to the ballot box.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):

“Participating in the democratic process is one of our most fundamental rights as American citizens. It is imperative that we make every effort to protect voters from discrimination. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, Shelby County v. Holder, set back decades of progress and made millions of people more vulnerable to voter discrimination. The AAPI community is no stranger to this kind of discrimination. Language access, naming issues, and redistricting concerns, among others, all influence the ability of Asian Americans to fully participate, unencumbered, in the political process. That is why it is essential that Congress pass the bipartisan Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would close the gaps in voting protections created by the Shelby County Decision.”

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11):

“After the Supreme Court overturned Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act three years ago, many state legislatures passed discriminatory voting laws. My home state of Ohio is one of them. Restrictive voter ID requirements, limited early voting opportunities, and other outlandish policies are making it harder for millions of Americans to exercise their right to vote. This injustice must end now. Three years without full protections of the VRA is far too long. Congress must restore the VRA.”  

Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03):

“In the three years since Shelby v. Holder struck down key protections of the Voting Rights Act, the grave concerns that were raised at the time have, sadly, become a reality. In my home state of Arizona, voters faced five hour lines, ballot and staffing shortages, inaccessible polling locations and significant registration irregularities as they tried to vote in the presidential primary in March. All of this stemmed from the decision of county election officials without federal oversight to cut polling places by 70 percent in our most populous county – a unilateral act that never could have happened if the VRA’s protections were still in place. While I introduced legislation to address the problems we faced in Arizona, the fact remains that our democracy remains fundamentally weakened by Shelby v. Holder, and will remain this way until Congress finds the courage to restore the VRA to its intended purpose.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40):

“This Saturday is the three-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.  The VRA was one of our nation’s most important federal civil rights laws.  However, because of the Shelby County decision, this year’s presidential election will be the first in more than 50 years which will not offer voters the VRA’s full protections. Congress must act to restore the Voting Rights Act to its full strength so that all eligible voters can participate in our electoral process.  Voting rights is not a Democratic or Republican issue.  It is an American issue and the cornerstone of our democracy.”

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46):

“3 years ago today, the Supreme Court misguidedly struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act and marginalized the voices of millions of voters. This was a significant setback for all Americans, especially for minorities, seniors, students, and low-income voters who were already at disproportionate risk of disenfranchisement. Congress needs to fix this injustice and pass a renewed, revised, and strengthened Voting Rights Act. We must ensure that every American has equal access to the ballot box, and protect the power of the minority vote.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“Today marks the third anniversary of the Shelby v. Holder voting rights case. This disappointing case invalidated a crucial centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that helped to ensure that states would not discriminate against certain voters. Since being elected to Congress, I have been a strong advocate for voting rights, and I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that no voter experiences discrimination. We need elections where the issues are what matter, and campaigns compete on the quality of their ideas. In the 114th Congress, I have signed on to numerous efforts to protect and expand upon voting rights at the federal level including cosponsoring Rep. Terri Sewell’s Voting Rights Advancement Act and Rep. John Lewis’s Voter Empowerment Act. As a member of the Voting Rights Caucus, I look forward to finding new ways to work with my colleagues to support our election system so that every voter is protected. Fair elections and transparent voting practices are necessary in order to strengthen our nation for generations to come.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43):

“Voter suppression is a real, present day crisis. Three years ago today the Supreme Court invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and, since then, state legislators nationwide have engaged in a vicious campaign to further disenfranchise minority, youth, low-income, elderly, and disabled Americans. Laws that range from cutbacks on early voting to strict voter identification requirements threaten our democracy. Congress must reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, take every possible effort to protect our fundamental right to vote, and stop state legislators from creating laws that discriminate and suppress fellow Americans.”

###

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.