Former NAACP president: Voting Rights Act is ‘under threat’

Civil rights attorney Cornell William Brooks said Monday that the Voting Rights Act, signed into law 53 years ago today, is in danger because a key provision in the landmark law has been weakened.

“Even as we commemorate the act, the right to vote is under threat,” Brooks told Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

The former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) cited a 2013 Supreme Court decision as the catalyst for weakening part of the 1965 law.

The Supreme Court in Shelby County vs. Holder struck down a portion of the law that included a formula to determine which states must receive approval from the Justice Department before making changes to election laws that affect jurisdictions with a history of discrimination at the polls. That means some jurisdictions can now make changes without obtaining approval from the federal government.

“The status of the Voting Rights Act and voting rights in general is imperiled,” Brooks said. “We’ve seen since that time a Machiavellian frenzy of voter disenfranchisement.”

He also highlighted the importance of aspects such as automatic voter registration.

“It’s not enough for us to commemorate voting rights anniversaries -- we need to celebrate some democracy birthdays, the birthday of automatic voter registration,” Brooks said.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965. The comprehensive measure prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It is regarded by scholars and activists as the most important civil rights statute since Reconstruction following the Civil War, and Brooks said it gave "birth to the possibility of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama puts out call for service on MLK Day: ‘Make a positive impact on the world’ Trump, Pence visit MLK Memorial Trump offers to limit his border wall to strategic locations MORE’s candidacy.”

— Tess Bonn