WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed a restoration of the Voting Rights Act at a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. Speaker Ryan, however, denied his responsibility as Speaker to move a VRA restoration in the House, and instead punted to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) who has obstinately ignored voting discrimination throughout the country, even in his home-state of Virginia:
“Lip service is not public service. While voters of color appreciate Speaker Ryan’s acknowledgement of the need to restore the VRA, that alone does nothing for the millions of voters who have to fight tooth and nail just to exercise their right to vote.
Voting shouldn’t require a court order. Since the Supreme Court gutted the VRA nearly three years ago, voters have had to spend millions on burdensome lawsuits to fight voting discrimination in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama.
Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan appears unwilling to back his words with the necessary action. He has instead sloughed that responsibility onto House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who stands in the way of civil rights and voting rights legislation.
Chairman Goodlatte has refused to heed calls from his constituents, from the civil rights community, and from the courts that voting discrimination has flourished without the full protections of the VRA. Even as courts have found that his home state of Virginia gerrymandered districts to deny Black voting power, Chairman Goodlatte refuses to even hold a hearing on a VRA restoration.
Deeds speak louder than words. It’s time for Chairman Goodlatte and Speaker Ryan to advance legislation to restore the VRA.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.