Black and Hispanic lawmakers are infuriated by Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, calling it a huge setback for the political rights — and influence — of minority voters. These minority lawmakers believe there eventually could be an effort by Republican-controlled legislatures in some Southern states to challenge majority-minority congressional districts, threatening the power of African-Americans, Hispanic and minority lawmakers. Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members also see little chance that the current Congress — with its deep partisan divisions and GOP-controlled House — will do anything to address the high court’s ruling or the concerns of minority groups nationwide. “Today, an activist Supreme Court cynically legislating from the bench in Jim Crow style, engaged in an historic overreach, ignoring their own precedents and disregarding clear and convincing evidence of ongoing discrimination at the polls,” declared Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).
An emotional Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an icon of the 196os civil-rights movement, told reporters the Supreme Court “stuck a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
“They’re saying in effect that history cannot repeat itself,” said Lewis, who was beaten by police during a March 1965 demonstration in Selma, Ala. “I say come walk in my shoes.”
“Although I think that the court’s decision is — frankly — disgraceful, it’s not surprising,” Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) told POLITICO. “It isn’t surprising given what we heard through oral arguments. The fact that the court chose to take this case in the fist place showed it was willing to do something.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called it a “very disappointing decision.”