NAACP Commends Supreme Court for Keeping Section 5 of Voting Rights Act Intact

Washington DC—The NAACP issued the following statement today in response to the United State Supreme Court Ruling in the Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Eric Holder, a case challenging Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“The NAACP commends the Supreme Court Justices today for upholding one of the most crucial enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, ‘[t]he historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable.’  In 2006 Congress voted to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and now in 2009 the Supreme Court has upheld Section 5, “President and CEO Jealous continued.

Section 5, regarded by many as the heart of the Voting Rights Act, both blocks and deters discriminatory voting changes in a select number of jurisdictions around the country. Specifically, Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit proposed voting changes to its election process to the Department of Justice or to the D.C. District Court for pre-approval.  In 2006, after careful review of an expansive record, Congress concluded that the Section 5 preclearance provision is still necessary to prevent minority citizens from being deprived of the right to fully participate in our democracy. Accordingly, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress voted to reauthorize Section 5 and former President Bush signed the reauthorization into law.

“While some may think that voter discrimination is a thing of the past, it is clear that it is not.  Jim Crow might be dead but James Crow Esquire is alive and well, and while we may not see fire hoses and police dogs any longer, [but] they have been replaced by false emails and polling station trickery,” Jealous said.

“When Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights act of 1965 in 2006, they compiled more than 16,000 pages of documentation and head from scores of witnesses in support of Section 5 and its continued relevance.  We are very pleased that the Supreme Court ruled to keep this crucial provision [Section 5] intact,” stated Hilary O. Shelton Vice President for Advocacy and Director of the DC Bureau of the NAACP. 

“Evidence of voter intimidation and voter discrimination are ongoing throughout our country.  From thousands of people being turned away from the polls in 2000 in Florida, to the Ohio controversy in 2004, and even to polling place problems in St. Louis during the past election, it is important now more than ever that Section 5 remain intact.  The Supreme Court did the correct thing and protected all people of color from voter discrimination and ensured that their voices will be heard,” said Shelton.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members in the U.S. around the world advocate for civil and human rights, conducting voter mobilization campaigns, and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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