NAACP LDF Special Counsel Debo Adegbile and Assistant Counsel Dale Ho recently appeared on Up w/ Chris Hayes to discuss the current challenge to the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.
With Mr. Adegbile defending the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act on behalf of six African-American voters, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case on February 27. Mssrs. Adegbile and Ho explain that under the Constitution, Congress is entitled to deference for its decision to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006–the fourth time over four decades. In reauthorizing the VRA, Congress relied on a 15,000 page record of persistent and adaptive voting discrimination in certain states and localities with the worst histories of voting discrimination, as well as the testimony of over 90 witnesses from over 20 hearings, over a ten month period. The 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, considered one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in our nation’s history, was passed by a vote of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House.
Significantly, Mr. Adegbile joined the discussion from Selma, Alabama, the site of Bloody Sunday–where, in 1965, civil rights demonstrators encountered brutality when protesting the systemic exclusion of Black voters. Several months after those events, the Voting Rights Act was enacted. This year’s Bloody Sunday commemorations serve as a reminder that race still operates in Alabama and other parts of this country to exclude people of color from the political process.
View Mssrs. Adegbile and Ho’s appearance here.