National Nurses United statement on latest Supreme Court ruling on voting rights in Arizona case
In light of the latest Supreme Court decision Thursday upholding two discriminatory Arizona voting laws, National Nurses United (NNU) today urged the Senate to repeal the anti-democratic filibuster needed to overcome Republican obstruction to facilitate passage of the For the People Act on voting rights and other critical legislation.
“Voting rights, which are at the heart of democracy and the principle of majority rule in the U.S. are virtually on life support today,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “The combination of the far-right block in the Supreme Court with draconian restrictions being passed in Republican controlled states are a code red requiring an urgent response. The Senate must act now to reinstate voting rights that have been shredded.”
“With the Supreme Court unwilling to defend voting rights, we cannot wait until a shrinking percentage of the American people are unable to vote on who will represent them and pass the laws and regulations that affect their lives, living conditions, and rights,” Ross said.
In its partisan 6-3 decision, the Court affirmed a law that throws out the ballots of people who vote in the wrong precinct, and a second one that bars the practice of allowing others to collect sealed ballots from voters for delivery to polling places to assist those who are unable to get to the polls.
The Court’s ruling overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling invalidating the laws that said the Arizona laws disproportionately harmed Black and Latino voters.
Voting rights advocates have noted that today’s ruling expands the court’s 2013 assault on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, passed in response to a century of post-Civil War racist Jim Crow segregation laws and practices that had systematically disenfranchised Black voters in particular.
Since that decision, 880 bills proposing election law restrictions have been introduced in 49 states, with at least 28 bills enacted into law in 14 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
A common source of restrictions has been the closure of polling places in predominantly Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities. A report by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has documented 1,688 polling place closures, including 320 in Arizona, 234 of them in counties that were more than one-third Latino. The result is hours-long lines for people waiting to vote at the fewer voting sites, as well as confusion over the location of polling places. In the 9th Circuit Court the judges also found that Arizona has changed polling places more often in minority communities, leading to voter confusion, and that the state had thrown out entire ballots of the voters even for federal and state races irrelevant to the voter’s home precinct.
Further, the 9th Circuit said the Arizona law on collecting ballots had intentionally targeted minority voters, who they said were more likely to be disabled, homebound, or lacked the means to vote in person. There is a particular adverse impact on the large, spread out Indigenous communities in Arizona. Fraud in ballot collecting, the pretext employed by Republicans to justify voting restricts, is extremely rare; the most prominent example being by a paid Republican consultant in a North Carolina Congressional race a few years ago.
Ross noted the correlation of the court and state laws attacking voting rights and the historic use of the filibuster in the Senate. Filibusters have most notoriously been employed to protect slavery, then post-Civil War, by Southern senators to block anti-lynching bills and to kill efforts to reverse racist Jim Crow restrictions on voting rights and prohibitions on housing, employment, and workplace discrimination. “We cannot let the minority hold our democracy hostage.”