This morning we provided a short list of states that had pending laws that could burden voters’ access to the ballot — laws that might immediately go into effect if the Supreme Court struck Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. Looking at the reaction quotes from the attorney generals in some of those states, it looks like they’ve wasted no time in moving forward with photo voter ID laws, laws that cut early voting, and other restrictive measures. Here are some of those quotes:
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, whose photo voter ID law was modified last year after a Section Five review and ensuing court trial found lawmakers who wanted to intentionally discriminate against black voters:
"For nearly 50 years, Sections 4 and 5 have imposed an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty in certain states, including South Carolina. Over time, great strides have been made and Sections 4 and 5 have become obsolete. Today’s decision means the voting rights of all citizens will continue to be protected under the Voting Rights Act without requiring a different formula for states wishing to implement reasonable election reforms, such as voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s. This is a victory for all voters as all states can now act equally without some having to ask for permission or being required to jump through the extraordinary hoops demanded by federal bureaucracy."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose state passed a voter ID law that could have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Latino-Americans had not Section Five court reviews blocked it:
"The U.S. Constitution establishes one United States — not a divided nation with different laws applying to different states. Laws that apply unequally to just some states have no place in our nation. Today’s ruling ensures that Texas is no longer one of just a few states that must seek approval from the federal government before its election laws can take effect. With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government."
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, whose photo voter ID law is more likely to disenfranchise black voters than white voters :
"The United States Supreme Court placed Mississippi on equal footing with every other State. The Court’s decision removes requirements for Mississippi to travel through the expensive and time consuming Federal application process for any change to state, county, or municipal voting law. Mississippi citizens have earned the right to determine our voting processes. Our relationships and trust in each other have matured. This chapter is closed."
Alabama attorney General Luther Strange, who pulled its voter ID law from federal Section Five review just a month ago:
"My office will continue to review the opinion and its implications. At this time, our initial conclusion is that Alabama is no longer subject to the preclearance requirements under Section 5. We expect significant savings for Alabama taxpayers because neither the State nor local governments will have to expend time, money and effort on submitting routine changes to voting laws to Washington, D.C., for approval. Alabama will only be subject to the preclearance process if Congress adopts a new coverage formula that includes Alabama. But let me be clear, I do not believe Alabama should be included under any new coverage formula that Congress might adopt. As the Court rightly points out, minority participation in voting is in fact higher in Alabama and many other covered jurisdictions than it is in many non-covered jurisdictions. "
Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg couldn’t disagree more about Alabama. As she noted in her dissent today:
"The Court does not contest that Alabama’s history of racial discrimination provides a sufficient basis for Congress to require Alabama and its political subdivisions to preclear electoral changes. Nevertheless, the Court asserts that Shelby County may prevail on its facial challenge to [Section Four’s] coverage formula because it is subject to [Section Five’s] preclearance requirement by virtue of that formula. …This misses the reality that Congress decided to subject Alabama to preclearance based on evidence of continuing constitutional violations in that State."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who filed an amicus brief in support of upholding Voting Rights Act’s Section Five:
"Section 4 establishes the criteria to determine whether a state or part of a state must seek review of any changes to its election laws by the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a process known as preclearance. Until Congress sets new criteria, no state or part of a state will be subject to preclearance under Section 5. The North Carolina General Assembly is now considering legislation that among other changes would limit early voting and require voter I.D."