Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today expressed his deep disappointment in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The decision overturned the current formula for deciding which states and localities must get preclearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before altering the borders of their elective districts and left it to Congress to create a new formula – a dim prospect in light of the House majority’s intransigence on a host of other important national issues.
“This ruling doesn’t invite a better, more updated formula, it invites gridlock,” Grijalva said. “Today the majority on the Court washed its hands of evidence of discrimination, declared the current remedies invalid, and intentionally left it to a damaged institution to invent a new solution from scratch. That’s not going to sit well with millions of Americans who face disenfranchisement.”
Grijalva noted that DOJ has blocked hundreds of proposed changes to electoral boundaries under Section 5 over the past several decades.
“What about this law is broken?” he asked. “What about this law isn’t working? It’s doing exactly what it was intended to do – prevent discrimination and disenfranchisement. This is a political decision that will undermine confidence in our electoral process. Now people who experience problems will only be able to go to court after they’ve been denied their rights. This is a recipe for preventable legal trouble on a national scale. In that sense, this ruling is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Congress reauthorized the current Voting Rights Act preclearance formula just seven years ago. Today’s decision renders that act of Congress invalid.
“We proved in 2006, as we have several times previously, that preventing racial voting discrimination is a bipartisan goal,” Grijalva said. “I hope it remains a bipartisan goal and that Congress acts on this as soon as possible. Trust in government, as we’ve seen, is not inexhaustible. We need to take this seriously before any more Americans lose faith.”