Special to The Times
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell released the following statement last week in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit’s decision invalidating North Carolina’s onerous voter ID law:
“The court ruling by the 4th Circuit striking down North Carolina’s voter ID law is a great victory for American democracy. As a strong advocate for equal access to the ballot box, I have been a vocal opponent of voter photo ID laws because of their discriminatory impact on certain vulnerable communities. The court ruling expressly validates this concern by finding that the new provisions in the North Carolina voting law ‘target African Americans with almost surgical precision.’ Likewise, the court panel noted the state’s motivation of reducing fraud ‘impose cures for problems that did not exist.”’
“The 4th Circuit’s decision is consistent with other recent findings by courts in Texas and Wisconsin, which also note that voters, particularly in minority communities, would be adversely harmed by changes to voting rights laws in those states. These decisions once again underscore the importance of the need for federal preclearance for changes to voting practices and procedures that could have a discriminatory impact.
“As the 2016 Presidential Election cycle continues, it is critically important that we recognize and defend against any attempts to create modern day barriers to the ballot box that disenfranchise the most vulnerable members of our community. Instead of making voting more difficult, we should be working to ensure that every American citizen is able to exercise their constitutionally protected right.
“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, I will continue to urge my colleagues in Congress to enact meaningful legislation to restore the vote such as H.R. 2867: The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, a bill I introduced to create a modern day coverage formula to fully restore the federal protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We should all strive to ensure that our right to vote is fair and inclusive for all citizens. As such, the recent ruling in North Carolina sets a very important precedent.”
In another matter, Sewell said she was thrilled that President Obama signed in law a bill to name the US Post Office facility in Selma after Selma native and voting rights activist, Amelia Boynton Robinson. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Sewell, a Selma native, said, “Amelia Boynton Robinson was the matriarch of the Voting Rights movement. Her life and legacy epitomized strength, resilience, perseverance and courage – the same characteristics that embody the City of Selma where she made such a significant impact.
“A true American hero, she is well-known for braving the front line of the Selma March on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where she was brutally attacked on Bloody Sunday. Amelia Boynton Robinson was a champion in the movement that paved the way for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Amelia Boynton Robinson made history in 1964 as the first woman to run for Congress from the State of Alabama. I know the journey I now take in Congress was only made possible because of her courage, tenacity and faith. As a daughter of Selma, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to bestow such a befitting honor to the life and legacy of Selma’s own Amelia Boynton Robinson. Her acts of courage truly represent the heart, spirit and essence of Selma.”
Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is serving her third term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district.