01.20.12

Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Supreme Court’s Decision On The Texas Redistricting Case

“The Supreme Court’s decision today to reject an interim map for legislative districts in Texas drawn by a Federal District Court risks making the upcoming elections more chaotic in that state.  But nothing in today’s decision undermines the continuing importance of preserving equal access for all Americans to the democratic process.  Ensuring that the Texas legislature draws maps sufficiently protecting the constitutional right to vote of its growing number of Latino citizens is at the heart of the important protections provided by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

“I strongly disagree with any suggestion that Congress’ near-unanimous reauthorization of Section 5 several years ago poses serious constitutional questions.  Congress built and considered an extensive record showing the continuing need for those provisions to protect the voting rights of all Americans, whatever their race or color.  The legislation reauthorizing Section 5 passed by both the Senate and House overwhelmingly, and was signed into law by President Bush, who also supported its constitutionality.  There is no more explicit constitutional grant of power to the Congress than in the second section of the 15th Amendment, which protects the right to vote.  It would be an act of extreme judicial activism to do as Justice Thomas would have done in his concurring opinion and reject the nearly unanimous conclusions of the democratic branch of government responsible under the Constitution for making sure that one person, one vote is a reality.”

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