Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is in huge danger this week, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments for why it should be abolished. Section 5 requires 16 states with a history of government sanctioned voter disfranchisement, to pre-approve through the federal government any changes they want to make to voter laws.
Those 16 states now argue that the requirement is no longer needed, and that the states have thoroughly cleaned up their act and there is no longer even a chance of voter disenfranchisement in their states.
As Cascade Patch readers know, our own Congressman John Lewis, was one of the leaders of the movement in 1965 to help push lawmakers to create the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Our congressman, which represents most of southwest Atlanta and beyond bled for voter rights as a young man, and now as an elder he is still fighting to keep the laws in place.
Excerpt from Representative John Lewis' Op-ed in the Washington Post:
Opponents of Section 5 complain of state expense, yet their only cost is the paper, postage and manpower required to send copies of legislation to the federal government for review, hardly a punishment.
But without Section 5, guaranteed civil liberties of millions of voters could be flagrantly denied, and those violations would remain in force and nearly unchecked unless a lawsuit provided some eventual relief. The act also rewards progress. In fact, every jurisdiction that has applied for bailout, demonstrating a clean record over 10 years, has been freed from Section 5 compliance.
Evidence proves there are forces in this country that willfully and intentionally trample on the voting rights of millions of Americans. That is why every president and every Congress, regardless of politics or party, has reauthorized Section 5.
The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy. I risked my life defending that right. Some died in the struggle. If we are ever to actualize the true meaning of equality, effective measures such as the Voting Rights Act are still a necessary requirement of democracy.
A caravan of freedom riders will arrive in Atlanta from the U.S. Supreme Court Rally to hold a rally here in Atlanta for supports of the Voter Rights Act.
WHO: Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Alabama New South Coalition ,Atlanta Urban League, Atlanta Labor Council, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, National Action Network, 100 Black Men
WHAT: Atlanta Rally of Freedom Rider Rally Series To Highlight Risk To Voting Rights Act From Supreme Court
WHEN: Tonight (2/28), 7:00PM
WHERE: Central United Methodist Church, 501 Mitchell St SW, Atlanta 30314(located at corner of MLK and Northside Drive) Sr Pastor: Rev. Byron E. Thomas