CAPAC Members Mark Seventh Anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder

Jun 25, 2020 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today marks the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

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

“Seven years ago, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision dealt a substantial blow to our democracy by opening the flood gates for states to restrict access to the polls. We have seen the devastating consequences of that decision play out over the past few years, including in recent days as the closing of polling centers has resulted in long lines requiring Americans to wait for hours to cast their ballot. This is unacceptable. These discriminatory policies have especially impacted voters of color, which is precisely the kind of disenfranchisement that the Voting Rights Act was written to prevent. It is vital that the Senate pass H.R. 4 to restore the Voting Rights Act and ensure that every U.S. citizen has equal access to the ballot box.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“The Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted the Voting Rights Act. Disenfranchisement, suppression, and discrimination of communities of color continue to perpetuate during the seven years since the disastrous ruling. The right to vote is a cornerstone of American democracy, and we must ensure that everyone is able to exercise this fundamental right. The House of Representatives took a crucial step in passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act in order to restore some of the critical VRA protections. The Senate must promptly bring this bill to a vote. It is imperative that we protect access to the ballot for every voter.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“Since the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, we’ve seen numerous attempts by states to prevent American citizens from voting. States have implemented strict voter ID laws; closed polling stations; purged voter rolls and limited the availability of ballots in different languages – all of which disproportionately impact communities of color and minorities. Asian Americans in particular are the fasting growing racial/ethnic demographic category and make up a key part of the electorate. We must protect the AAPI community and other minority groups from voter suppression efforts, which is why I’ve supported legislation to defend the right to vote and restore integrity in our elections. The fight will not end until every U.S. citizen has equal access to the ballot box.”

Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03), CAPAC Freshman Representative:

“The right to vote isn’t just a basic right, it’s a right that forms the foundation of our Democracy, and one that must be protected. The Shelby County v Holder case turned back the clock on protections earned with the sweat of marchers and the blood of the beaten. We’ve seen its impact in Georgia, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and across our country as men and women overcome unnecessary obstacles to have their voices heard. This is a case that doesn’t just impact those in the AAPI community, but all Americans. Let us use this anniversary to rededicate ourselves to restoring the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and strengthening our Democracy.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), CAPAC Civil Rights Task Force Chair:

“As we mark the seventh year of the calamitous Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, we now see how that decision has severely impacted voting rights today. In this unprecedented time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, this decision has allowed for the closure of hundreds of polling places on the eve of elections and delays in mailing ballots to registered voters in areas that were previously subject to preclearance and the protections afforded under the Voting Rights Act. Protecting the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. We must continue to fight any effort to suppress the vote and ensure access to the ballot.”

Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21): 

“America is built on the idea that everyone can make an informed decision about their representative government. Unfortunately, seven years ago, the Shelby County v. Holder decision blocked that objective by undermining the Voting Rights Act. By doing so, the Supreme Court made it easy for states and municipalities to discriminate, intimidate, and disenfranchise minority voters. Frankly, that's plain wrong; I will protect this essential part of our democracy: the right to vote. 

“That's why I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, which makes our system more equitable by restoring the Voting Rights Act's protections. The Act holds states accountable to disenfranchised minority groups by requiring preapproval of any legal change in voting practices that might affect voting capability. I also support H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which curtails big-money influence, gerrymandering, and other barriers to voting. These actions help create a fair and just system so that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box.” 

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17)

“The right to vote in this country is sacred, enshrined in the constitution no matter what town you grew up in or race you belong to. Recent elections have provided stark reminders that the kind of voter intimidation legalized in Shelby County v. Holder remains an effective tool in an effort to suppress our right to vote. My CAPAC colleagues and I will continue to work together to restore the Voting Rights Act, ensuring every American can freely exercise their right to vote.”

Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32):

“As a voting rights attorney, I know there are too many barriers to ordinary people exercising their constitutional right to vote since the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court ruling. This decision took us backward, and the House has passed many pieces of legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act and make voting as accessible as possible, including the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. These must be signed into law, and we must ensure that no matter who you are or where you live, every eligible citizen has equal access to the ballot box.”

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01):

“Seven years ago today the Supreme Court gutted key protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We are seeing the direct consequences today -- long lines in African American communities, purging of voter rolls, & other strategies intentionally designed to suppress votes. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and any effort to suppress votes is wrong. We must make it easier for citizens in all communities -- especially those who have been historically disenfranchised -- to participate in our elections. It is past time for the Senate to take up H.R. 1 to expand vote by mail and make other important reforms.”

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“7 years ago, the Supreme Court delivered a significant blow to voting rights in Shelby County v. Holder by ruling that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Since Shelby, numerous states and several municipalities have enacted discriminatory policies like restrictive voter ID laws and closed or consolidated polling places to systematically disenfranchise minority voters. Now in the midst of a global pandemic, these voter suppression measures are being cynically deployed with increasing prevalence and scale, while commonsense initiatives to protect the health and rights of voters like vote-by-mail are politicized. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the most fundamental right in our democracy – the right to vote – is protected.”

Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-03):

“During this time of civil unrest, we are reminded of the power of each person’s vote. If we want to see change that protesters are demanding, it starts with each voter demanding accountability of their elected officials. That power is only exercised through each individual vote. Yet, since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, we have seen a wave of efforts throughout the country that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for those who demand change to actually vote. These efforts include voter roll purges, voting location closures, and restrictive voter ID laws. That is precisely the reason the House passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act last year: to ensure that every American has a voice in our democracy. Now it’s time for the Senate to do its part for our democracy and for every American marginalized by discriminatory voting practices.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“Seven years ago, the Supreme Court delivered a significant blow to voting rights in Shelby County v. Holder by effectively legitimizing the forms of voting intimidation and suppression that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to eliminate. These discriminatory policies have led to restrictive voter ID laws, polling place closures, and other measures restricting voting resulting in lower turnout. These factors systematically disenfranchise Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, other people of color, the elderly, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and low-income households. Voting is the most fundamental of rights in our democracy and we must ensure it is protected now more than ever.”