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Protecting voting rights is not racial entitlement

caines | 5/9/2013, 5:30 a.m.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is one of our countrys most effective federal civil rights statutes and still very much needed to guarantee the voting rights of all citizens. One need only look back a few short years in Florida and a number of other key states when efforts were underfoot to suppress the votes of Blacks, women, senior citizens and young adults. Incidentally, the different groups just mentioned have in recent years voted along the Democratic Party line much to the chagrin of right-wing Republicans and tea party supporters. Maybe thats why we have seen a number of lawsuits including one filed by Shelby County, Alabama, that seeks to invalidate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 serves as our nations discrimination checkpoint, requiring jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit proposed voting changes for federal approval before they are enacted. The rationale is to ensure that the proposed changes are free from discrimination. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund [LDF] has intervened in the Shelby County case which now rests in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court is expected to make its ruling in June. But it leads one to wonder, if our justices would actually allow the Voting Rights Act to be gutted, thus openly the floodgates for numerous ways of suppressing the minority vote? Would our nations most respected group of judges actually overturn the lower courts rulings against Shelby County, undermine the authority of Congress and thus make way for a plethora of restrictive, discriminatory laws and policies aimed at denying minorities the right to vote? Are we standing on the precipice of the return of Jim Crow-like restrictions? We must stand guard as the Supreme Court prepares to make its ruling in the coming months. Finally, we unequivocally assert that protecting voting rules is not tantamount to racial entitlement. Voting is a right that must continue to be guaranteed for all.