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Voting Rights Advocates See Hard Times In Wake Of US Supreme Court Decision

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today’s US Supreme Court decision that effectively guts the “pre-clearance” requirement in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (see related story) does not have a direct impact on the Delaware Valley.

But area voting rights groups say it nevertheless sends a message.

“This decision was a bad day for America and for voting,” says Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center and one of the plaintiff attorneys in Pennsylvania’s yearlong battle over voter ID (see related stories), which goes to trial next month.

She says today’s Supreme Court ruling means the federal government will be less likely to step in to stop voter discrimination, putting more responsibility on each state.

“The very strong protections in the state constitutions, including in Pennsylvania, become all the more important for the courts and the people to look up to,” Clarke tells KYW Newsradio.

Pennsylvania NAACP president Jerome Mondesire agrees.  “It means we need to double down, work harder. We cannot rest,” he said today.

Mondesire says the decision will mean stepped-up pressure on federal lawmakers to get a more modern pre-clearance law on the books.  But he points out it won’t be easy with a Republican-controlled House.

“We will have to go down and fight for it, but I think it will be a long, arduous battle,” Mondesire said today.  And in the meantime, he says, the battle will fall on individual voters to fight voter discrimination, case by case.

 

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