Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on Tuesday blasted conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court after they struck down a part of a law intended to prevent the type of voter suppression that he was fighting against when he had his skull fractured during protests in the 1960s.
In a 5 to 4 decision along ideological lines on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the heart of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional becauese Congress had not provided adequate justification for subjecting nine mostly southern states to additional federal oversight.
“I was disappointed because what I think what the court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 right in its very heart,” Lewis explained to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today, maybe they’re not being denied the right to participate, to register to vote, they’re not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the old Confederacy and even in some of the states outside of the South, there has been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period.”
“And these men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines, they never had to pass a so-called literacy test,” he observed. “It took us almost a hundred years to get where we are today. So, will it take another hundred years to fix it, to change it?”
Lewis added that the country was at risk of repeating history.
“My message to the members of the United States Supreme Court is remember, don’t forget our recent history,” he said. “Walk in our shoes. Come and walk in our shoes. Come in walk in the shoes of those three young men that died in Mississippi [while registering black voters in 1964], walk in the shoes of those of us who walked across that bridge on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965.”
“I didn’t think that on that day when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that I would live to see five members of the United States Supreme Court undone what President Johnson did with those pens.”
Watch this video from MSNBC’s Adrea Mitchell Reports, broadcast June 25, 2013.