March 4th, 2013
09:04 AM ET

Opinion: Challenge to Voting Rights Act ignores reality

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) - On Tuesday, President Barack Obama was at the Capitol, joining leaders of Congress to dedicate a statue in honor of the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement," Alabama's Rosa Parks. About the same time, across the street at the Supreme Court, an Alabama lawyer was arguing that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act - the consequence and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement - was unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The irony lies not only in the timing or juxtaposition, but the institutions.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat when a white bus driver ordered her to move. Twelve years earlier, the same driver had grabbed her coat sleeve and pushed her off his bus for trying to enter through the front rather than the back door. This time he said, "Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested." She replied, "You may do that."

Her arrest led to a 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses by the black community. The boycott propelled the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to prominence as a civil rights leader. And the arrest of Parks and the boycott she inspired led to a civil law suit, Browder v. Gayle, in which the Supreme Court declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses unconstitutional.

It took Congress 10 years to catch up to the Supreme Court, when it passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Although Alabama's at it again with the new challenge, this time it seems the conservative majority of the Supreme Court wants to roll back the clock. Frank C. Ellis Jr., the attorney for plaintiff Shelby County, argues that Congress exceeded its authority in 2006 when it reauthorized Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. AniyunweahCherokee

    The father of todays conservative movement is of course the late President Ronald Reagan....his words about the late Dr. King were some of the most beaitifully respectful words one human being has ever said about another human being....besides the gospels written about our Lord...but no one should ever compare them of course. Much love mamn, Ya ta heh Osi yiu Gvgeyu.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. AniyunweahCherokee

    How do conservatives want to roll back the clock? Im conservative. You dont speak for me mamn. What is it you think they/we are doing to prevent voting rights? Every black american I know has an ID. Its not about the ID law is it? Cause you know, I have to have an ID to check out a library book or even sell scrap metal at a scrap yard. An ID presented to vote is the most common sense idea ever presented. If theres more to it, please explain your posistion. Gvgeyu.

    March 4, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |