Washington, D.C. — Today, a three-judge panel (in a 2-1 decision) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that private individuals cannot bring lawsuits to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, striking down the main path to pursue voting protections for people of color. In response, Devon Ombres, senior director for Courts and Legal Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
It was only a matter of time before conservatives attempted to undermine the Voting Rights Act again following U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion in the 2021 Brnovich decision. He opened the door to further gut the Voting Rights Act, and the 8th Circuit walked right through it using cherry-picked legal doctrine to achieve extreme right-wing policy goals. Chief Judge Lavenski R. Smith correctly noted in his dissent: “Rights so foundational to self-government and citizenship should not depend solely on the discretion or availability of the government’s agents for protection.” We cannot afford for the federal courts to continue rigging the U.S. voting system with every decision, particularly as the nation enters the most consequential election in a generation in 2024. Congress must do everything in its power to protect the fundamental right to vote.
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