Several Jewish organizations this week condemned a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that in effect strikes down a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that has served as protection for otherwise disenfranchised voters for nearly a half-century.
By a 5-4 vote, the court on Tuesday declared that the coverage formula in Section 4 of the 1965 legislation, which determines what states are covered by the Act’s provisions, was based on decades-old data and is therefore unconstitutional.
The ruling is “profoundly disappointing” and “a major setback to the progress we have made in civil rights,” said Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman and ADL National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher.
“For almost 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has protected minority voters, helping to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, ethnicity, or national origin, can exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the ADL leaders said in a statement. “This ruling threatens much of the progress that has been made.”
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said the court’s ruling “overturns the nation’s longstanding commitment to protecting the voting rights of all citizens. We call on Congress to immediately take up and pass [legislation] to ensure that jurisdictions that continue to implement discriminatory voting practices are prevented from doing so.”
The National Council of Jewish Women reaffirmed its “strong support” for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which determines what states must receive preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes in laws that affect voting.
“The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy – a right for which men and women sacrificed their lives,” said NCJW CEO Nancy Kaufman.