Merkley: Voting Rights Act Decision Fundamentally Off Base

 Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act. 

“In a democracy, there is no right more fundamental than the right to vote, and yet in some places, Americans still face the threat of large road blocks to accessing the ballot box. For nearly half a century, the Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in clearing those road blocks, which is why Congress overwhelmingly reauthorized the Act the last time it was considered.  Indeed, the Court recognizes the enormous importance of voting rights and Congress’s power in securing those rights. Today’s decision to cut off the Act’s implementation at the knees is so fundamentally off base.  Sadly, in making this constitutional overreach, the Court reflects a naïve approach to the political process and the practical obstacles that keep too many Americans from the ballot box.  Unless Congress acts soon, far too many Americans will face serious obstacles to exercising their right to vote. 

“Today’s decision is the latest example of a series of Supreme Court decisions that are out of touch with the practical, day-to-day challenges facing Americans.  That trend is exemplified by the Citizens United decision, but includes cases this session that make it harder to seek redress for sexual harassment in the workplace and harder to vindicate consumer protection complaints in court.  The Supreme Court’s continued assault on government ‘of, by, and for the people’ is deeply misguided.”