To the Editor:
Through its decision in striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the U.S. Supreme Court erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years.
Justice Department pre-clearance of changes in voting laws by covered states remains vital to protect minority voting rights and prevent backsliding. Only strong, immediate action from Congress can fix this huge mistake made by the court.
We believe that the Supreme Court decision is naive. The progress we have made eliminating discrimination in voting is because of the VRA and its enforcement over the past four decades. The fact that the Department of Justice blocked over 700 voting changes they found to be discriminatory from 1982 through 2006 speaks for itself.
During the 2006 Congressional VRA re-authorization, a record of thousands of pages of testimony helped illustrate the continuing problems in covered jurisdictions. This pernicious discrimination is less visible today than what occurred decades ago but is no less harmful to the right to vote.
Overwhelmingly bi-partisan Congressional action was taken in 2006 based on a solid case for the continued need of the Voting Rights Act. The League of Women Voters of Downers Grove/Woodridge/Lisle joins our fellow Leagues in urging Congress to restore the VRA to its full strength.
The current Supreme Court decision is a great disappointment, but it should also be a great call to action by those who believe in free and fair access by every eligible voter.
Peggy Healy and Hilary Denk, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Downers Grove/Woodridge/Lisle