Pelavin: “Voting discrimination remains a continued problem for our nation, and we are grateful that the Supreme Court preserved the core element of our democracy: full and equal voting rights for all people.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C.,June 17, 2009– In response to today’s Supreme Court decision in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today’s Supreme Court decision in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder is a measured victory in the ongoing fight for equal rights. In a narrow ruling, the Supreme Court preserved Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and districts with a history of discrimination at the polls to get approval (or “pre-clearance”) from the federal government before making any changes in their election practices or procedures. Section 5 has long protected members of minority communities in states and districts across the country that have a history of discriminatory voting practices.
While our nation has made many strides toward equality, discrimination at the polls remains a real and insidious problem across the country, threatening to the integrity and vibrancy of our deliberative government. It is that problem that Section 5 seeks, and will continue to seek, to eradicate. Congress included Section 5 in the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act after hours of testimony made extraordinarily clear that discrimination remains a problem and that pre-clearance is essential to ensuring that minority communities do not encounter unnecessary barriers when attempting to vote.
Today, the Supreme Court recognized Congress’s due diligence and affirmed the continued need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. They kept this essential provision intact with a strong 8-1 majority. Voting discrimination remains a continued problem for our nation, and we are grateful that the Supreme Court preserved the core element of our democracy: full and equal voting rights for all people.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership
includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.