John Lewis: Supreme Court stabbed civil rights law “in its very heart”

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who was a key civil rights leader during the 1960s alongside Martin Luther King, spoke out today about the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder.

Shelby, explained in more detail below, gutted a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act, leaving it to Congress to “fix” it.

As if the Republicans in the House, or even those in Senate, would lift a finger to help blacks and other minorities ensure their voting rights.


“What the Supreme Court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its very heart.” – Cong. Lewis, today.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog explains:

Four years ago, in a case called Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 (NAMUDNO) v. Holder, the Supreme Court reviewed a challenge to the constitutionality of the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  As I explained in an earlier post, that portion of the Act was designed to prevent discrimination in voting by requiring a list of state and local governments identified by Congress in the 1960s as having a history of voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures – both major changes and even for something as seemingly innocuous as moving a polling place across the street.  In that case, the Court ultimately dodged the constitutional question, handing the utility district a victory on another ground.  But at the same time, the Court fired off a cautionary shot to Congress, admonishing it that “[t]hings have changed in the South,” where most of the state and local governments that have to comply with the preclearance requirements are located, and that the burdens imposed by the preclearance requirements “must be justified by current needs.”

Today’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a new challenge to the preclearance requirements, boils down to a new message to Congress: we warned you, you didn’t listen, and now it’s your problem to fix. The Court did not invalidate the actual preclearance provision of the statute. But it did something just as significant: it struck down Section 4 of the Act, which contains the formula that is used to identify the state and local governments that have to comply with the preclearance requirements. The upshot is that although the preclearance requirement survives, none of those jurisdictions have to comply with it unless and until Congress can enact a new formula to determine whom it covers – a prospect that, given the current state of gridlock in Congress, might not happen for a while or even forever.

And here’s Lewis on MSNBC:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • That works!

  • “I think these forums are not for me,” In total agreement. BYE!

  • Isn’t that special.

  • Yawn…… a tad touchy are we Little Sri?

  • Who knows. I suspect it has to do with his uber Catholic childhood.

  • One of my favs!

  • Oh you poor little thing. The oppression must just be so horrible. Oh and BTW ‘Yawn.’

  • Yawn

  • A gainormous gavel, agent orange and a few tears have gotten him nadda.

  • Sri

    I apologize to all you people – the last two days, have been interesting in my life and I have been out of character went around ranting. For that I am sorry. I think these forums are not for me, I cannot change your thinking nor you can change mine. But I think having seen world outside of US and lived in a “Socialist Utopia”, I cringe at some of the ideas you people have.. but again, this posting on the forums is out of my character, I did not want to attack any one personally, but I have .. so I regret it.

  • Sri

    I see lot more than a blinded propagandist.

  • Sri

    Karmanot – you silly thing, you over-estimate yourself.

  • Sri

    Silencing dissent is a great idea, must have learnt from your hero Joseph Stalin.

  • Sri

    Or the Preferred word of Pukers… good luck with the leftist pukefest.

  • Indigo

    I concede your point. My secret thought (now going on record with PRSM, I suppose) is that what the Supreme Court actually did was to re-open the door to segregation. It won’t have quite the same look, I don’t expect to live long enough to see “separate but equal” become the law of the land as it was when I was in high school, but we’re on that road, no doubt about it.

  • Indigo

    “Retarded?” You use the r-word that way? Seriously?

  • Indigo

    Aubergine is a lovely . . . color? flavor? tint? I dunno! Anyhow, it’s a fun word to say out loud. :-)

  • Indigo

    That’s how he remains “Speaker.”

  • TheOriginalLiz

    Looks like the south is rising again. Because it worked so well for the country last time.

  • TheOriginalLiz

    Stockholm Syndrome?

  • You’ve been taking lessons from that genius Sarah Palin haven’t you, little Sri?

  • If only you knew, little Sri.

  • I was waiting for the ad hominem. It is the preferred five dollar word of trolls. I raise you ad nauseum, the preferred word for troll catchers.

  • goulo

    Sri, funny how you just said in a different comment that ad hominem is “the modus operandi of leftist brain trust.”

  • Aubergine with lime green accents

  • You would do well to take it. You are out of your league here and soon your adolescent posturins will produce little more than a yawn.

  • Monoceros Forth

    I agree. You need advice on if you should comment. (No, by the way.)

  • Texas has stated that all the racist electoral policies they’ve tried to implement in the last couple years that the Justice Department has blocked will be implemented immediately. Step #1 is getting harder and harder every election cycle.

  • Sri

    or beyond your intellectual comprehension.

  • Sri

    I understand the bubble the left’s brain-trust lives in. No offense taken.

  • Sri

    Dear Karmanot, take yourself a little bit seriously, do something with your worthy with your life before give others advice.

  • Wouldn’t matter if he wanted to or not, he hasn’t been in control of the House for even five minutes of his tenure as Speaker.

  • Sri

    Standard tactics, what are you a middle-school drop-out ?

  • Sri

    You need to take a literacy test.

  • Sri

    ad hominem, the modus operandi of leftist brain trust.

  • You really think Boehner is going to let any law that helps fight voter suppression in the south (and elsewhere) come up to vote?

  • FLL

    Auburn, with a touch of copper highlights.

  • Indigo

    We’ve known for a while that liberal thought and compassionate government were in trouble, now we know how serious it is. Step #1: throw out the bigots, step #2: elect progressives to public office, step #3: restore just laws. It’s going to take a decade, maybe longer, but the American public will not long tolerate these reactonary court decisions.

  • Bill_Perdue


  • It’s time to leave Momma’s basement and leave Looney tunes behind.

  • Don’t dignify your self as a messenger. You are a horse fly.

  • You rest your case? Sad. You don’t have a case.

  • You haven’t a clue about capitalism, dimwit.

  • Thomas is a very sick man—-a black bigot who votes against the civil rights of black people.

  • P Gustaf

    The dye?

  • Dear little Sri, I think your BS will be better received over at Brietbart.

  • Let us all pause for a moment and remember Ralph Nader, without whose patriotic understanding of the basic underpinnings of democracy we would not be able to withstand the predations of low information trolls.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    Actually, you’re not just watching the left; your making a retarded right troll out of yourself, as well.

  • Sri

    the dye has been cast, every one plays the game… Just tired of “righteous indignation” both sides play with it.

  • Sri

    Intolerance is abundant on both sides of aisle, I just want to watch the looney left throw its tantrum.

  • FLL

    “Let us all pause for a moment and remember Ralph Nader, without whose campaign today’s Supreme Court would not have happened.”

    I’m not completely sure I understand your comment correctly. Are you talking about the votes Ralph Nader got in Florida in the 2000 election? I just want to clarify your comment.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    You probably think you’re accomplishing something.

  • paulabflat


  • FLL

    OK, let me rephrase my original comment. Do you see a pattern below? In either example?

  • RepubAnon

    Let us all pause for a moment and remember Ralph Nader, without whose campaign today’s Supreme Court would not have happened.

    As for the next step, let me paraphrase Joe Hill “don’t mourn, organize.” Remember where the conservative movement was after Richard Nixon – and where it is today? Yeah, they had money – but we’ve got an increasingly angry electorate. If we point them in the right direction, they’ll ignore the oh-so-clever campaign ads and defeat the Republicans.

  • Sri

    well, the very same bench said Obamacare is legal “tax”, the left has taunted every one and their mother … when they won.. take it easy, the sun is going to raise tomorrow and you and I will live on, the only thing that changed is Congress has to come up with a new formula … but understanding nuance seems to be not the club in the bag of people here.

  • Sri

    You must have won the liberal spelling bee with that word.

  • Sri

    People here are wild-eyed.. hypocrites..nothing I can do about it.. Go ahead liberal lynch mob.. do what you do the best…shoot the messenger.

  • Sri

    Not even close, what we have in US is a mix of Plutocracy and Kleptocracy, but again to discard State has nothing to do with it, is disingenuous .. the five of the top 10 richest counties are suburbs of DC.. I rest my case.

  • Sri

    Banks are powerful – because the politics of the state have let them to be, its not called Capitalism, you want to blame Plutocracy…

  • FLL

    I think it’s disingenuous to blame the American system of government for the Supreme Court decision to gut the Voting Rights Act. This is another way of saying that no one is to blame, and I think that this is pretending to know less about something than one really does. The following is vote count to gut the Voting Rights Act, with information for the president who appointed each justice:

    Scalia (Reagan ’86) voted against the VRA
    Thomas (Bush Sr. ’91) voted against the VRA
    Alito (Bush Jr. ’06) voted against the VRA
    Roberts (Bush Jr. ’05) voted against the VRA
    Kennedy (Reagan ’88) voted against the VRA

    Kagan (Obama ’10) voted for the VRA
    Sotomayor (Obama ’09) voted for the VRA
    Breyer (Clinton ’94) voted for the VRA
    Ginsburg (Clinton ’93) voted for the VRA

    Let’s not be dishonest here and say that “it’s the system and it’s really nobody’s fault.”

  • cole3244

    a hero like lewis should be on the scotus instead of a zero like thomas.

  • or retarded

  • “Blaming capitalism is retarded” from the horse’s ass.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    Corporations control the government.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    Thanks for all the talking points of the right.

  • samizdat

    Again, a bail-out which came at the behest of the banks, and was solely for their benefit. And BOY did they benefit.

    You are either an incredibly naive individual, and ignorant to boot, or you are just that dumb.

  • samizdat

    The banks killed the banks, because regulations were ineffectively, selectively, and poorly enforced. Often because the banks wanted it that way. And what are you gonna blame, socialism? Kenya? Nazi Germany?

  • Bill_Perdue

    Capitalism owns the state.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The banks won when Clinton signed banker inspired bills in 1999 and 2000 that removed the regulations applied during the previous depression. That created the boom that went bust leading to massive, intractable unemployment, the rise of poverty, wage and benefit cuts, union busting and the current depression, the Clinton Long Depression.

    Your thinking is fundamentally flawed, is based on lies, and makes you an enemy of workers and consumers.

  • nicho

    I’d respond to that if it made any sense at all — but it’s just gibberish.

  • nicho
  • Sri

    Capitalism the eternal punching bag , it is the State that intervened with the bail-out, blame the STATE if you want to.

  • nicho


  • Sri

    repeating talking points of the left does not make you right, the SCOTUS asked Congress come up with a new formula.. thats it.

  • nicho

    Where do you get your bullshit from. You seem to have an endless supply. Racist voter suppression is on the increase.

  • guest1

    Capitalism killed the banks, regulations bailed them out. Blaming capitalism is retarded

  • Bill_Perdue

    This is the era when reforms are demolished. Reforms are no longer possible.

    The capitalist system is incapable of reform in the political arena, already a sewer of corruption and mendacity, in the economic arena, characterized by insatiable gluttony by the rich which is constricting the economy and squeezing the blood out of it.

    This is an era which largely reflects and celebrates the dog eat dog society created by the rich and when the rich will increasingly dominate cultural and political life, further degrading the lives of working people by imposing their strategy of divide and rule and promoting racism, homophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia and immigrant bashing.

    This a an era when reforms like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid will be taken away or gutted and replaced by ever harsher austerity and repression.

    This is the era of unending wars of aggression and it’s also an era of devastating nuclear and biological weapons.

    This is an era when the degradation of the environment will increase the rate of human distress and death exponentially and when whole species will die off.

    Nothing is so urgent as the task of breaking with the Democrats and Republicans, creating workers parties and then a workers state to begin to solve these problems.

  • Sri

    Applying 1960s standards in 2013 is not fair and basically it is up to the congress to ensure they update maps, i.e. reward the jurisdictions that performed by moving them outside of the map, and its also a chance to improve the map – now they can pick jurisdictions where minority voting is under-represented in Northern and Western states. But again – the liberal lynch mob is always ready to pounce on everyone.. who they deem is not living by Plantation rules.

  • benb

    May the 5 have to wait 8 hours in line to vote in the next election.

  • Shorter US Supreme Court:
    “Liberals must realize our long national nightmare is over and we are, at long last, a post-racial society… now that we’ve allowed that negro in the White House.”

  • NMRon

    The Reich’s Supremes did what they were appointed to do today. Undermine democracy in the world. They’ve given up any pretense of following their oaths. Time to hound the Quislings from office.

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