The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act was released only hours ago, but most of Washington’s power players have already weighed in. President Barack Obama set the tone for his party's general disappointment with his statement this morning:
"I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent. … I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process."
Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the White House this afternoon:
"Like so many across the country, I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today. … “We’re going to work with Congress in this effort and the administration is going to do everything in our power to make sure that fair and equal voting processes are maintained."
Attorney General Eric Holder on the administration’s next steps:
"The Department of Justice will continue to carefully monitor jurisdictions around the country for voting changes that may hamper voting rights. … Let me be very clear: We will not hesitate to take swift enforcement action using every legal tool that remains to us against any jurisdiction that seeks to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling by hindering eligible citizens’ full and free exercise of the franchise."
The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke on his MSNBC show today:
"What they have just done is really revoked a lot of what Dr. King’s dream was all about. We build a monument to Dr. King, and part of, at least half, of what Dr. King’s dream was about was voter rights ’65. They’ve just revoked that. They just canceled the dream. And the children of the dream are not going to sit by and allow that to happen."
Republicans expressed degrees of satisfaction with the court’s ruling. Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, issued one of the first statements:
"Today’s Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating the preclearance requirements contained within the Voting Rights Act is a win for fairness, South Carolina, and the rule of law. … The court’s ruling will hopefully end the practice of treating states differently and recognizes that we live in 2013, not the 1960′s."
Rep. Bill Denny, a Mississippi Republican and Chairman of the House Elections Committee, echoed his colleague:
"I've always felt that it was unconstitutional... I would've agreed in 1965 that something had to be done, but it should've been done to all 50 states. I just always felt that was wrong, that was a violation of the 10th Amendment to begin with, of states' rights."
Fairly common in the Twittersphere and media today was a skepticism that Congress, which SCOTUS called on to update the Voting Rights Act, could get anything done. Slate's David Weigel summed it up:
SCOTUS to Congress: "You have to pass a bill to fix this." Congress: "We can... pass... bills?"— daveweigel (@daveweigel) June 25, 2013