Statement From A.G. Schneiderman Urging Congress To Restore Core Provision Of The Voting Rights Act

NEW YORK – Today, the United States House Judiciary Committee is conducting a hearing focused on restoring the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court’s June 25, 2013 ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. The hearing, which follows a similar hearing held yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, marks an important first step in the effort to restore a core provision of this federal civil rights law. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has submitted a letter to the Committee urging swift and careful Congressional action to ensure the continuing vitality of the law. The following statement may be attributed to Attorney General Schneiderman regarding the restoration of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act:

“I urge the House Judiciary Committee to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has played a vital role in combating discrimination against voters for decades. As my office has argued in the Supreme Court, Section 5 has been a crucial tool for the protection of voting rights in areas covered by the law, including in parts of New York.  I applaud Congress for taking this important step to ensure that the important protections provided by this law remain in place.”

A.G. Schneiderman led a coalition of covered states in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve the protections afforded by Section 5, which requires states and state subdivisions with a history of voting discrimination to obtain federal review of voting changes to ensure that those changes were not adopted with a discriminatory purpose, and will not negatively impact minority voter participation. A copy of the Attorney General’s amicus brief, joined by the States of California, Mississippi and North Carolina, filed in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder can be read here.

In 2006, Congress conducted extensive hearings to determine whether the protections provided by Section 5 remained necessary in covered jurisdictions, compiled a record of ongoing discrimination throughout the covered jurisdictions and voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House to renew the law. The preclearance provision has applied to Kings, Bronx and New York Counties and has provided important protections for minority voters in New York State.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office is committed to ensuring equality in opportunity for all voters. To report complaints of voting discrimination, contact the Office’s Civil Rights Bureau at 212-416-8250 or Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov.

A copy of today’s letter to the House Judiciary Committee can be viewed here.

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