Congressman Alan Nunnelee

Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act:
“Voting is one of our most sacred rights, and Mississippi ensures this right for all citizens. Today’s ruling is a welcome recognition of reality. Mississippi has come a long way since 1964, and today has the highest number of African American elected officials in the country. This is strong evidence that rules designed to right the wrongs of previous generations have outlived their usefulness. Mississippians are focused on the future, growing our economy and creating opportunity for all people, regardless of race. Rather than live in the past, we will continue to move forward together and make Mississippi the best place in the world to call home, for all our people.”

Senator Roger Wicker
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision, by a vote of 5-4, to strike down Section IV of the “Voting Rights Act” as unconstitutional:

“Today’s decision is a good step in returning power back to the states. As the Court noted, the criteria being used by the Justice Department to implement portions of the ‘Voting Rights Act’ are outdated. I welcome today’s ruling to treat all states equally under the law and hope it will finally clear the way for Mississippi to implement our commonsense voter identification laws in a way that is fair to all citizens.”

Section IV of the “Voting Rights Act” applies to a decades-old formula that decided which states and counties had histories of discrimination. The formula has not been updated since 1965. Since then, nine states, including Mississippi, and counties in six other states have been subject to federal preclearance, on everything from new congressional representation maps to voter-identification laws.

Congressman Bennie Thompson

“Today’s Supreme Court decision will make it harder for many Americans to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote. The decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act guts the most critical portion of the most important civil rights legislation of our time. The Voting Rights Act has been used for nearly 50 years to protect the American right to vote. Conditions and patterns of racial discrimination that were present decades ago persist in communities and states around the country today. The protection that Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act provided have not only been necessary, but effective.

In Mississippi, where 38% of the population is African-American – higher than any other state – we have seen African-Americans take advantage of the opportunity to serve in elected offices at all levels. We have seen increases in voter registration and turnout – all made possible by the VRA. It appears now that the court has done away with Section 4 only because it was effective. While Section 5 remains intact, it is now useless unless Congress enacts a new method for determining which jurisdictions should receive more scrutiny.”

“There are still forces at work that would like to disenfranchise African-Americans and other groups of voters. We have seen evidence of this with the latest efforts to require voter ID in states around the country. Relatedly, Congress has not been silent on this issue. House Democrats and Republicans alike have overwhelmingly and repeatedly voted in favor of reauthorizing this law. Most recently, in 2006, such a reauthorization passed the House by a vote of 390-33. Now, the Supreme Court has rendered the American people vulnerable to discrimination. Today’s ruling will undo many of the gains of the last 50 years. “