Groups laud voting rights decision


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish groups praised the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The court preserved the act’s Section 5, which requires certain states and districts with a history of discrimination at the polls to gain approval — also referred to as "pre-clearance" — from the federal government before making any changes in their election practices or procedures. The section is still applied in a number of southern states.

The Anti-Defamation League, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the National Council for Jewish Women welcomed the decision.

"Noting that the congressional action was based upon a ‘sizeable record’ of evidence of the continuing need for Section 5 of that Act – the ‘pre-clearance’ provision in question in the case — the Court appropriately found a narrow basis for resolving the dispute before it while leaving Section 5 in place," said Deborah Lauter, ADL’s civil rights director. "It is particularly noteworthy that eight justices specifically acknowledged the historic importance of the act and the positive changes it has accomplished."

Mark Pelavin, the Religious Action Center’s associate director, said that "While our nation has made many strides toward equality, discrimination at the polls remains a real and insidious problem across the country, threatening to the integrity and vibrancy of our deliberative government. It is that problem that Section 5 seeks, and will continue to seek, to eradicate."

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