When the Supreme Court decided to gut the Voting Rights Act last week, America lost a landmark piece of legislation that was pivotal in the fight against discrimination across the country. The ruling instantly became one of the single worst in American judicial history, and most Americans could not agree more.
According to the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, over half of Americans disagree with the high court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act. That number includes a whopping 71% of African-Americans, who initially fought for and achieved the passage of the act during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Only 33% of Americans actually agree with the court’s decision.
For over 40 years, the Voting Rights Act prevented states, mostly in the South, from discriminating against people of color to keep them from voting. The teeth of the law, known as Section 4, required states with a history of discriminatory policies to obtain pre-clearance from the Justice Department before any new laws could take effect. The court excused its ruling by claiming that voter discrimination no longer exists, but a 15,000 page report assembled by Congress in 2006 made it clear that the Voting Rights Act is still necessary and subsequently renewed it 98-0 in the Senate, by a huge majority in the House, and signed by President George W. Bush.
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that the Act was critically needed, and that was just seven years ago. But now that the nation’s first African-American President occupies the White House, Republicans demonstrated their racist feelings again and again and made it one of their goals to kill one of the most important voting laws in American history. Republicans lost over 90% of the African-American vote in 2012 and 71% of the Latino vote. In a desperate effort to maintain their political relevance in a continually changing nation, the GOP has attempted to enact anti-voting laws across the country. These laws, known as voter ID laws, unfairly discriminate against minorities, who are less likely to have picture ID. And now that the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, Republicans in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina have all moved forward to enact laws to suppress minority voters. Such immediate actions by the GOP in these states prove how necessary the Voting Rights Act was and demonstrates that the Supreme Court was wrong to declare discrimination dead in America.