Flags are mounted, grills are fired up and friends, family and neighbors are gathering to celebrate Independence Day across the country. We celebrate our history, our veterans and our most fundamental values of American democracy, including the right to vote. But this year, recent decisions by an ideologically split U.S. Supreme Court are putting Americans’ right to vote at risk by enabling racial and partisan gerrymandering and upholding voter suppression tactics. We are reminded that we cannot celebrate America without also defending the right to vote. Make no mistake — the Supreme Court’s assault on voting rights impacts everyone — red states, blue states, the elderly and young of any race. But the brunt of such attacks will be felt most profoundly by communities that have been historically disenfranchised — people of color and low income communities.
Specifically, in Abbott v. Perez, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s extensive findings that the Texas legislature engaged in intentional racial discrimination when drawing congressional and state legislative districts. The targets? Black and Latino voters. The message? The Supreme Court will find a way to justify a legislature’s impermissible racial discrimination to pick their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their representatives.
In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the court upheld an Ohio law that permitted the state to start the process to remove voters from the rolls, simply because they sat out an election. The court effectively sanctioned a “use it or lose it” rule on American voters.