The U.S. Justice Department will beef up its enforcement of voting rights laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last month gutting the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
“I am announcing today that I have directed the Department’s Civil Rights division to shift resources to the enforcement of civil rights provisions that were not affected by the Supreme Court ruling, including Section 2, which prohibits voting discrimination based on race, color, or language,” Holder said in a speech to the NAACP.
The Supreme Court ruling invalidated a provision of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain jurisdictions, mostly in the south, to “pre-clear” any changes to their election systems with the Justice Department. The decision, said Holder “dealt a serious setback to the cause of voting rights.”
But the court left untouched Section 2, which allows victims of voting discrimination to file suit after the fact.
Congress will hold hearings this week to examine how to strengthen the landmark civil rights law in response to the court’s ruling.
Holder insisted that voting discrimination is not a thing of the past.
“These problems are real,” he said. “They are significant, they corrode the foundations of our democracy, and they are of today, not yesterday.”