Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham says the organization will be calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Kentucky representatives to work in a bipartisan effort in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the case involving the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In a 5-4 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional part of the Voting Rights Act that includes the formula determining which states and jurisdictions need federal approval before changing their voting laws.
The NAACP and Cunningham join other voting rights activist groups in arguing the court’s ruling “guts” the law and its ability to protect certain states—mainly in the South—from discriminatory practices.
Congress re-authorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 for 25 years, but the court’s ruling will bring it back to the drawing board. The Supreme Court says Congress will need to update the formula and data used to determine which state should be protected, but some have argued this will be difficult.
Cunningham says Louisville’s NAACP chapter will be calling on state leaders including McConnell—who voted for the reauthorization the law in 2006—to collaborate and work together to respond quickly.
“We will be calling on him to join other senators in a bipartisan effort that was exemplified when they re-authorized in 2006 to join together and to enact new legislation which would remedy the wounds that the U.S. Supreme Court inflicted on voting rights,” he says.
A spokesman forwarded comments made by the McConnell earlier in the day, saying, “It’s an important bill that passed back in the ’60s at a time when we had a very different America than we have today. At this point I think I’m just going to have to read it first.”
In a press release sent out by Third District Congressman John Yarmuth’s office, he said: “Despite our tremendous advancements since the 1960s, discrimination and suppression remain at polling places and in state laws throughout the country. While the Supreme Court dealt a blow to voter equality today, it also placed the onus on Congress to improve the law and ensure that the equality our legal system prizes also applies in the voting booth. Now, Congress must act to preserve that which is fundamental to our democracy: the right to vote for all citizens.”
Although Kentucky is not among the nine states affected by the ruling, Cunningham says the court’s decision that the provision (Section 4) of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional has great implications for the nation and minority voters.
“I was proud that Kentucky was not included because Kentucky did not have a history of discriminatory practices when it came to voting,” he says, adding “the border states did not have that history of voting discrimination.”
On July 13, the NAACP will hold its national convention in Florida.
“This will be a major concern and we will then be able to better analyze everything and then to come forward with a plan and a program,” Cunningham says.