June 25, 2013

Ala. leaders pleased by voting rights ruling

But one black Alabama leader says, 'I'm very disappointed with it. Disappointed isn't even the word for it.'

The Associated Press

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Calera City Council member Ernest Montgomery sits in the council chamber in Calera, Ala., Tuesday, June 25, 2013. A ruling by a deeply divided Supreme Court on Tuesday halted enforcement of the federal government's most potent tool to stop voting discrimination over the past half century, saying it does not reflect racial progress. Montgomery, a lifelong resident of Shelby County, said he wouldn't have ever been elected to his seat on the Calera City Council without the voting rights act. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

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Strange was asked what effect the ruling might have on the right to vote for minorities.

"This ruling is very beneficial and will not have any impact on a minority's right to vote," Strange said at a meeting Tuesday with reporters.

Strange said the state has still not submitted to the Justice Department a request for pre-clearance of a bill passed by the Legislature requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said the ruling will allow Alabama more autonomy.

"The Alabama of today is vastly different than the one of a half century ago, and the time for us to be freed from the burden of federal oversight is long overdue. Today's ruling clearly states that our constitutional rights as Alabamians take precedence over the wants and whims of liberal Justice Department bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," he said.

The chief executive officer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a former Alabama state senator, Charles Steele, said he was "very disappointed in the court's decision. It's 50 years later and we are trying to turn back freedom for African-Americans."

Steele said the Voting Rights Act was the catalyst for many freedoms won by blacks over the past 50 years.

Steele predicted the ruling will lead to a new round of civil rights demonstrations to encourage Congress to restore language concerning preclearance in the act.

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who represents parts of Shelby County, said the ruling shows how far Alabama had come.

"The Alabama of today is not the Alabama of 1966," Ward said.

Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman said even with the ruing the Voting Rights Act still prohibits any discrimination regarding the elections process."


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