Target: Chief Justice John Roberts
Goal: Convince the court to uphold legislation making it easier to vote
The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision onwhether or not to uphold section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by the end of June, 2013. Section 5 of the act requires certain historically racially segregated districts receive a “pre-clearance” from the justice department or a federal court before modifying their voting procedures. Thus far, hearings before the court and respective comments by justices have implied the court is leaning toward striking down the measure. Justice Antonin Scalia even went so far as to say that section 5 is a “racial entitlement.” Statements like this reflect a willful ignorance on the part of our highest court, and it is of dire importance that we inform the justices on the merits of section 5 and the necessity of keeping the measure active.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is widely viewed as a landmark victory for the civil rights movement. For more information on section 5, see this Wikipedia article. Prior to the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression was rampant in our country. Blacks and other minorities were subject to outrageous “voting qualifications” where they would have to guess the number of bubbles in a bar of soap or the amount of jelly beans in a jar before being granted the right to vote. Therefore, the act, in essence, is to ensure discrimination at the voting polls is kept in check. Justice Scalia is off-the-mark in suggesting that voting is an entitlement. It is an inalienable right, and one of our highest judges should be made aware of this fact.
By signing this petition you will be voicing your belief in a participatory democracy. Our nation is wrought with inequality, making it all the more pertinent to protect the scarce number of provisions that facilitate democratic society. Many individuals have fought for the rights of voters, some risking and others losing their lives in doing so, we must ensure their efforts are not undone and keep our highest court in check before it unravels the protections afforded to those that were kept disenfranchised for so many years.
Dear Justice Roberts,
With the impending court decision over section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, I feel it is necessary to remind the court of the many injustices that plagued our nation prior to the act’s legislation.
In 1965, only 383 of 15,000 black residents in Selma’s Dallas County were registered to vote. Three months after passing the Voting Rights Act over 8,o00 black residents were registered in Dallas County. Clearly the efficacy of the law should not be in question. Nor should the notion that racism is still prevalent in the United States. Are we so naive as to claim that these measures are not still necessary? Can you honestly state that racism is no longer a factor in attempts at voter suppression? If that were true, then why are we seeing the dramatic increase of gerrymandered districts and voter-ID laws that have proven to affect minority voters greater than non-minority ones? Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma has said, “Whites won’t vote for blacks in Alabama. That’s the state of race relations.” His statement reflects the fact that 95 percent of blacks in Alabama voted for President Obama last year, whereas 15 percent of white Alabamans voted for him. Race is still a factor.
When the date of the decision comes for section 5, I urge you to uphold the measure. The results could, and most likely will, be catastrophic otherwise. As Congressmen John Lewis has said, “We must not step backward to another dark period in our history.” That dark period was one where black citizens were required to guess the amount of bubbles in a bar of soap or the amount of jelly beans in a jar in order to receive the right to vote. With our history marred by events like Bloody Sunday and voter qualification measures, how can the court possibly in good conscience vote against section 5? I trust you to be on the right side of the decision.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steve Petteway via WikipediaCommons