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Rev. Jesse Jackson states, "The continued vitality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has been.."

June 22, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 8-1 to leave the fundamental constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act intact. It narrowly rules that the specific voting district in Texas that brought the lawsuit can opt out of Section 5 requirements of the Act. Chief Justice Roberts said the larger constitutional question surrounding the Voting Rights Act "is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today."

Rev. Jesse L Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, stated, "We passed the Voting Rights Act as landmark legislation in 1965 and it remains the heart and soul of the nation today. It transformed our nation from one denying African Americans and people of color their basic right to vote to a democracy as envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King aimed at making America a more perfect union. In today's Court ruling, the continued vitality of Section 5 has been vindicated."

Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and woefully declared that the landmark Act is no longer needed. In an affront to all America, Justice Thomas' poor legal judgment and apparent personal anger led him to conclude that the historic, nation-changing Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. He thus seals his legacy with the authors of the "separate but equal" Dred Scott decision for his refusal to uphold the civil rights of all Americans and as a Justice who loses no opportunity to attempt to obstruct civil rights enforcement.

While the Voting Rights Act survives today, we can expect now a rash of "opt out" lawsuits from other jurisdictions seeking to avoid coverage under Section 5, and continued efforts to chip away at the Act and undermine its protections. Clearly, "we must keep up our guard and continue to defend and protect our civil and voting rights," said Rev. Jackson.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. To learn more, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366. To arrange an interview with Rev. Jackson, please call the numbers listed above.