Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Participates in and is a Panelist at the Legislative Plenary Session of the 109th National Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Style Magazine Newswire | 7/16/2018, 1:35 p.m.
Jackson Lee—“Through its annual convention, the NAACP galvanizes members of our and all communities to act for social change. This ...
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

San Antonio, TX - Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, released this statement as she participated in, and is a panelist at, this year’s NAACP Convention’s Legislative Plenary Session:

“For well over a century, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”) has served as an advocate for progress, social justice and as a champion for African Americans and others. Despite the passage of over a hundred years, the need for the NAACP’s advocacy is no less important.

“For example, through a regrettable confluence of regressive social justice policies, like the mass incarceration of men of communities of color, and felon disenfranchisement and judicial weakening of the Voting Rights Act, the threat to the voting rights and efficacy of communities of color is under constant assault. This year, the Supreme Court reminded advocates for equal access to the ballot that they have much to worry about. For too long, State legislatures in Texas and throughout the Nation have drawn voting districts in a manner that minimizes or marginalizes the voices of certain segments of the electorate, typically minorities and the poor. In Abbot v. Perez, a case originating in my home state of Texas and in the city and state which serves as the site of this year’s NAACP convention, the Supreme Court undermined the principle of “one person, one vote.” This year gave the Supreme Court many opportunities to curb the excesses of state legislatures in drawing legislative districts. Whether it was asked to rein in partisan gerrymandering or impermissible racial gerrymandering, the Supreme Court largely demurred this term at opportunities to rein in attempts by elected officials to choose their voters, rather than permitting voters an opportunity to select their elected officials, as the normal political order prescribes.

“In Abbott, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent is instructive: “[t]he [Court]… does great damage to [the] right of equal opportunity. Not because it denies the existence of that right, but because it refuses its enforcement.” To add insult to injury, the timing of Abbot v. Perez was also rather odious as the decision comes exactly five years after Shelby County v. Holder, in which the Supreme Court struck down a critical provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act with assurances that despite its ruling, there would remain legal provisions to safeguard the voting rights of minority voters. The ruling in Abbot hollows that assurance. Without a sympathetic audience at the nation’s highest court, all who can read these words and hear the messages emanating from the NAACP Convention have their charge: vote. The failure to vote means the failure to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.

“The failure to vote deprives progressives a voice in the appointment of judges to our federal courts, a lesson made painfully aware with the President’s recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to sit on the United States Supreme Court, and replace the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy. This nominee soldiered as a deputy in the right-wing’s crusade against Bill Clinton during the 1990s, fought against a statewide recount in Florida in 2000, paving the way for the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, and thereafter served a decade as a stalwart conservative on the country’s most important federal appellate court, issuing rulings in service of decidedly and uncompromisingly conservative causes. Once more, to add insult to injury, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination occurred on the sesquicentennial of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.