by Nick Mele
Pax Christi Pacific Northwest
The euphoria over the Supreme Court decisions upholding marriage equality washed over the Court’s prior decision to declare key provisions of the Voting Rights Act invalid, thereby nullifying the decades old civil rights legislation, driving the earlier ruling to the opinion sections of most media outlets. The tidal wave of rejoicing over marriage equality did not, however, totally swamp concerns about the Court’s decision which, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likened to throwing away an umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet under it. In view of Republican efforts across the nation, but especially in the states where the Voting Rights Act most often been invoked, to pass restrictive voter ID laws and gerrymander voting districts to ensure Republican majorities in federal and state legislatures, the Court decision can not become the last word on voting rights.
The Court did offer a solution in its suggestion that Congress enact new legislation based on more contemporary information. Given ongoing Congressional deadlock and Republican control of the House, this at first glance seems a dismal path to tread. In fact, the only way to break Congressional deadlock is citizen action, and the non-profit Common Cause, which has worked for good government since its inception in 1970, has initiated what it hopes will grow into a mass movement leading to passage of a renewed Voting Rights Act. Please take a look at their site, especially the Congress Must Act page, and act; and once you have acted, tell all your friends and urge them to act.