On the Steps of the Supreme Court LULAC and Other Civil Rights Leaders Support the Voting Rights Act of 1965

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Today, LULAC stands alongside civil rights leaders in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), as the nation’s highest court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the VRA.

Today, LULAC stands alongside civil rights leaders in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), as the nation’s highest court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Shelby County, AL, Court Case Number 11-5256), a case challenging the constitutionality of the VRA. In 1965, following a civil rights movement demonstration in Selma, Alabama, which ended in bloodshed, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act and catapulted the civil rights movement out of the shadows by making discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters illegal.

The 15th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” However, continuing discriminatory practices like poll taxes and mandatory literacy tests prevented African Americans from voting and in 1965 Congress passed the VRA. Section 5 of the VRA prohibits discrimination based on race, critical in specific states with historical and documented discriminatory restrictions on voting. These particular jurisdictions are prevented from making changes in their election requirements without first getting pre-approval from the federal government. Section 2 of the VRA bars the use of voting practices or procedures that discriminate against minority voters.

“The 2012 Presidential election showed us clear examples of attempts to disenfranchise voters with attempts to pass draconian voter ID laws that prevented minorities and elderly people from exercising their Constitutional right to vote,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran. "Long voting lines and last minute changes to polling sites are every bit as oppressive as the poll taxes that dominated past elections before the passing of the VRA of 1965."

“Texas, for example, proposed a stringent voter ID law that had the purpose to prevent minority voter participation which the Supreme Court found violated Section 5 of the VRA,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “It’s outrageous to minority voters to suggest that the VRA is outdated in light of recent attempts by states to disenfranchise voters. The progress we’ve made has been solely because of the protections offered by the VRA, and any distinctions made are attempts to manipulate the law for political advantage.”

“This rally will reinforce to the Court that the Voting Rights Act protects real voters from discrimination, from Alabama to Alaska. Legal precedent is already on our side and this rally will demonstrate that the American people are on our side as well. We encourage all people who cherish the right to vote to join us on the steps of the Supreme Court on February 27th,” said Wade Henderson president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 900 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit http://www.LULAC.org.

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Paloma Zuleta
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