MALDEF Vows to Continue to Fight Aggressively to Preserve Precious Right

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The Court struck down as unconstitutional a portion of the law used to identify states and localities that must follow special procedures before implementing changes in their voting systems.

The rights of over 15 million Latinos are safeguarded by the preclearance provision of section 5. The preclearance provision protects Latino voters in Arizona, Georgia, Texas, portions of California, Florida, New York, and more. Thirty-two percent of Latinos in the U.S. live in jurisdictions covered by section 5.

Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation, stated: “The Court’s decision ignores the reality of continuing discrimination, undermining the integrity of American elections. Today’s decision has far-reaching effects for Latino voters and opens the door for greater levels of discrimination against Latino voters. MALDEF will continue the fight to protect the rights of Latino voters and to ensure that Latinos can register and vote on an equal basis with other citizens.”

The preclearance provision protects Latino voters today. For example, in 2012, the preclearance provision successfully blocked Texas from using discriminatory redistricting plans and also blocked Texas from using a new, strict photo voter ID law that would have prevented a disproportionate number of Latinos from voting. In 2002, the preclearance provision successfully blocked Arizona from using discriminatory redistricting plans to elect members of the state House of Representatives and Senate.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated: “Today's conservative Supreme Court majority has rendered temporarily unusable the most powerful civil rights protection mechanism in federal law. So powerful is the preclearance mechanism that it will certainly be revived by Congress to protect the essential right to vote, and perhaps be newly deployed to protect other critical rights as well.”

MALDEF was instrumental in Congress’s extension of section 5 to portions of California and the Southwest in 1975 to protect Latino voters. For over 30 years, MALDEF has brought litigation to enforce section 5. Most recently, MALDEF represented Latino voters in the federal litigation under section 5 that successfully blocked the Texas redistricting and photo voter ID law in 2012.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund