Hispanic National Bar Association Disappointed with Supreme Court Decision Undermining Voting Rights Act, Harming Hispanic Voters

Contact: Erika Lopez-Tello
E-mail: elopeztello@hnba.com
Phone: (202) 223-4777

June 26, 2013

Washington, D.C. – On June 25 the Supreme Court issued a decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In a 5-4 decision, the Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and its preclearance provisions.  Although the Court acknowledges discrimination still exists, the Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5. With this decision, Congress must now update the coverage formula to determine what jurisdictions will be subject to Section 5 so that voters in jurisdictions with pervasive histories of discrimination continue to be protected.

“The Voting Rights Act provides critical protection for millions of voters, particularly in states with a history of voter suppression,” stated Peter M. Reyes, Jr. HNBA National President. “The HNBA is incredulous that, despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ explicit recognition that “voting discrimination still exists,” the Court failed to protect the voting rights of millions of historically disenfranchised populations, including Hispanics.  Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has received strong bipartisan support in Congress and the White House.  We now call upon Congress to convene immediately to pass new protections on a bipartisan basis to protect the voting rights of all Americans, especially those targeted by discriminatory efforts.”

The Supreme Court’s misguided decision today striking the coverage provision of the Voting Rights Act ignores the manifest evidence regarding the pervasive efforts to disenfranchise people of color across the country as borne out as recently as the 2012 Elections. Indeed, it is because of this rampant discrimination in voting that Congress just seven years ago to reinstate the Voting Rights Act.  Justice Ginsburg in her dissenting opinion recognized its importance when stating that “Throwing out [the Voting Rights Act] when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”  The HNBA had joined in filing an amicus brief in the case in support of the Voting Rights Act.


About the Hispanic National Bar Association

The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is an incorporated, not-for-profit, national membership organization that represents the interests of the more than 100,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, and law students in the United States and its Territories. For three decades the HNBA has acted as a force for positive change within the legal profession. It does so by encouraging Latino students to choose a career in the law and by promoting their advancement within the profession once they graduate and start practicing. Through a combination of issue advocacy, programmatic activities, networking events, and educational conferences, the HNBA has helped generations of lawyers succeed. Our organization is stronger today than at any point in its history and is as committed as ever to its mission. For more information, please visit http://www.hnba.com.