Elected officials reacted quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act.
The issue is significant for all Southern states. Georgia’s newer cities have received different treatment under the VRA because they were created well after the law was enacted in 1965. Sandy Springs, which incorporated in 2005, was declared exempt from Section 5 of the VRA, which requires U.S. Justice Department approval of any action that may affect elections.
The decision, released on June 25, declared Section 4 the law unconstitutional. Justices threw out the formula established by Section 4 that is used to determine which states must receive preclearance from the U.S. Justice Department before changing election laws.
State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said the ruling likely means that recent redistricting by Fulton County’s legislative delegation that gave Republicans a majority will now take effect without the need for DOJ approval.
Willard said voters will still have options if they feel someone is discriminating against them. He said Section 2, which prohibits voting discrimination, is still in effect.
“I think it’s time,” Willard said. “It’s time that the yoke was taken off most of the areas in the South. There’s still a way of addressing any complaint that someone has that there’s been discrimination, and that’s under Section 2. I think the Supreme Court has recognized there has to be some other standards prepared if that’s what’s to be continued by Congress.”
State Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, who is running for the U.S. House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision.
He said the formula was based on outdated information.
“I have hanging in my House leadership office the pictorial of the 1963-64 State House in which my grandfather served and the pictorial of today’s State House,” Linsey said in his statement emailed to reporters. “The one from my grandfather’s era is all white and all male – and, I might add, all Democrat. Needless to say, the modern pictorial looks far different and better.”
Lindsey’s statement is printed in full at the end of this article.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a leader in the Civil Rights movement, told ABC News the ruling is a “Dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”
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State Attorney General Sam Olens said he is “pleased” with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Voting Rights Act will continue to protect the rights of all voters in all states, but will no longer treat some states differently based on outdated formulas that, thankfully, no longer reflect current practices,” Olens said in a statement emailed to reporters.
Olens’ statement is printed in full at the end of this article.
Reporter Newspapers will continue posting reactions from elected officials when it receives them.
Rep. Edward Lindsey Comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision to Strike Down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
ATLANTA— State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”):
“Today, the United States Supreme Court looked up and recognized reality — Georgia and the rest of the South have advanced a great deal since 1965. In so doing, it moved toward restoring common sense to our federal civil rights laws. It found that Section 4 (b) of the VRA, as applied today against state’s such as Georgia, is unconstitutional and, in doing so, requires that our nation analyze questions regarding alleged discrimination in voting laws through the eyes of America in 2013 – not 1965.
“As the Georgia Republican House Majority Whip, I helped draft and push through Georgia’s 2011 redistricting plans for our State House, State Senate, and Congressional delegation through the Republican Majority General Assembly. I took great pride in the fact that our plans were precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. It was the first time since the passage of the VRA in 1965 that the Georgia General Assembly’s original decennial maps had not been rejected by the Justice Department or the federal courts.
“Still, this pride was tempered by the utter injustice of the VRA – relying on decades old irrelevant and outdated data under Section 4 (b) — continuing to single out in modern times Georgia and other Southern states for the misdeeds of its former leadership a half century ago.
“I have hanging in my House leadership office the pictorial of the 1963-64 State House in which my grandfather served and the pictorial of today’s State House. The one from my grandfather’s era is all white and all male – and, I might add, all Democrat. Needless to say, the modern pictorial looks far different and better.
“Therefore, I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to no longer burden our state with the sins of generations long past. Citizens who believe they are discriminated against still retain the right to go to court to seek redress against alleged wrongs under Section 2 of the VRA, but Georgia and its people will no longer be tainted with the presumption of guilt on this issue. That is how it should be in America.”
Statement by Attorney General Sam Olens on the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act Decision
Attorney General Sam Olens released the following statement regarding the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Shelby County v. Holder.
“When the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 1960s, several states and local jurisdictions, including Georgia, discriminated against minority voters. Discrimination is wrong, and Section 5 was an appropriate response.
I am pleased, however, that the Supreme Court recognized today that, “[n]early 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.”
The Voting Rights Act will continue to protect the rights of all voters in all states, but will no longer treat some states differently based on outdated formulas that, thankfully, no longer reflect current practices.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act makes clear that racial discrimination in voting is illegal nationwide, and remains a strong and effective tool to counter discrimination.”