COLUMBIA, SC — The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, temporarily lifting a requirement that some states, including South Carolina, get federal approval before they change their voting laws. The reaction of S.C. political leaders included:
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, said the decision was not a surprise to me. It's very disappointing. ... All one has to do is take a look at the shenanigans that were taking place in the run up to the 2012 elections and you would know that there are a lot of jurisdictions in this country that are poised to go at great lengths to hamper and discourage voter participation by people by color.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens: 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 preclearance requirement forced South Carolina to spend millions of dollars to defend a photo-identification requirement for voting that had already been ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court's ruling will hopefully end the practice of treating states differently and recognizes that we live in 2013, not the 1960s.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca: Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was a necessary tool to preserve voting rights, but due to the reform and advances in S.C. election law, it is no longer necessary. The Supreme Court noted this tremendous progress in South Carolinas electoral system and it was the underpinning of their decision. I concur with the court that our state has made tremendous progress. The Supreme Court decision now puts South Carolina on equal footing with every other state in the nation.
Gov. Nikki Haleys spokesman Rob Godfrey: As our state's first minority and woman chief executive, Governor Haley applauds today's decision. She understands better than anyone how South Carolina has changed for the better -- and that's thanks in no small part to the fact that she, and members of the General Assembly, have fought to strengthen the integrity of our electoral process and make sure more, and not fewer, South Carolinians have access to the ballot box.
Jaime Harrison, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party: The Supreme Courts Voting Rights Act decision is extremely disappointing, but as Democrats we'll continue to fight for voting rights and fairness. The Democratic Party will always stand on the side of those defending access to the ballot for all eligible Americans, especially here in South Carolina where we have so often seen efforts to restrict the rights of those who simply want to exercise their freedom and participate in the political process.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston: We are a nation that demands fairness and accountability. Is there a formula from the 1970s that helps us find that today? I don't believe so. We should strive to ensure that all Americans have access to opportunity and equal protection under the law. But punishing six Southern states because of past failures does not help us in the present and certainly does not help find our path to the future. All states should be treated equally, and today's decision provides for that opportunity.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springfield, called the ruling a victory for states like South Carolina ... who have been federally mandated to follow unnecessary and outdated requirements that are completely irrelevant with todays society. I have always been supportive of the Voting Rights Act and voted for its reauthorization in 2006; however, the Department of Justice under the current administration has abused its power enforcing this legislation as well as other programs intended to provide for those in need.
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