Virginians on VRA decision

6/25/2013, 3:27 p.m.

The Supreme Court has stripped Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Below are comments from several Virginia leaders on the court's opinion.

Rep. Bobby Scott

"Today's Supreme Court ruling is a disappointing setback for voting rights. While I am pleased that the Court left Section 5 intact, it ruled Section 4 unconstitutional, the Section that determines the formula that is used to establish which state and local governments must comply with Section 5's preapproval process. The Supreme Court based its opinion on the fact that minority voter turnout has increased over the last few elections. However, the Voting Rights Act not only protects the right to vote, but also ensures that discriminatory practices and schemes that dilute votes are blocked.

"Congress must immediately call hearings to ascertain which jurisdictions should be covered under a new formula. In the meantime, the Attorney General should use his powers under other parts of the Voting Rights Act to file for injunctions on the implementation of many pending laws that would have been subject to Section 5 but for today's decision. This includes laws pending in North Carolina and the voter ID law in Virginia, which were unlikely to be precleared under Section 5."

Gov. Bob McDonnell

“Today’s ruling maintains the portions of the Voting Rights Act that prohibit discriminatory practices and procedures. As governor, I will ensure that the Commonwealth remains committed to protecting the rights of its citizens and ensuring that every Virginian’s vote counts. Virginia will continue to faithfully comply with the Constitution and the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act. I will work with the attorney general to continue to conduct a thorough review of proposed changes to voting laws to ensure compliance with the Constitution and the VRA.”

State Sen. Louise Lucas

"This is a step backward for voting Virginians.

"Sadly, in 2013 this section of the Voting Rights Act is still needed. Just last November we saw lines of Virginians - some of which were six hours long - who just wanted to exercise their most fundamental right. Today's ruling opens the door to even more barriers for Virginians who wish to exercise their right to vote."

State Sen. Mark Herring

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is deeply disappointing. It is a step backward, and an affront to the men and women who fought for the Voting Rights Act and the countless number of Virginians whose voting rights have been protected by this legislation.

“While Virginia and our nation have made progress since 1965 toward protecting every individual’s constitutionally guaranteed right to vote, I agree with our Governor that Virginia has not outgrown the Voting Rights Act and that Congress should move to rectify this decision.

“I believe we must remain vigilant in protecting against any effort that disenfranchises voters and as Attorney General I will always stand up to protect Virginians’ right to vote.”