Mayor Williams' Statement on Supreme Court Decision On Voting Rights Act

Posted on  06/28/2013 5:04 pm

I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a critical piece of the Voting Rights Act, which now allows nine states, predominantly the South, to change their election laws without prior federal permission. I was twelve years old when the Act passed in 1965 during the height of the Civil Rights Era. I vividly recall my parent’s discussion about this matter around the dinner table. There was jubilation that the discriminatory acts to suppress voting rights had been outlawed.

It is sad but true, that the protections this Act sought to remedy nearly 50 years ago are still needed today. States all across the country have been enacting laws to make it harder for citizens to cast their ballots. In my last term as a State Representative in the General Assembly there was an effort to do so in Delaware. Fortunately it was shot down.

The Voting Rights Act served a pivotal role in ensuring that millions of Americans maintained the right to vote. The Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the most significant core provision will undo years of work by the government, civil rights organizations like the NAACP, Urban League, and other grass roots efforts to guarantee the voting process is fair, particularly in states with a history of voter discrimination.

The right to vote is one of the most fundamental freedoms of all Americans. I am pleased Congressional Democrats are planning new legislation to render the Supreme Court’s decision ineffective. I am even more excited that Former Speaker of the House Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is considering naming the legislation after civil rights icon Representative John Lewis (D-GA). I urge Congress to act swiftly.