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Supreme Court Voting Rights Act Decision: Mississippi Reaction

JACKSON, Miss.–Reaction from Mississippi lawmakers and leaders to Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that could effectively nix some restrictions on what the state can do with voting laws, was generally split along party lines.

The decision to Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann meant Mississippi should immediately begin the implementation of Voter ID. His reasoning: Mississippi voters passed it and want it and the feds no longer have the say so.

That interpretation didn’t stand with everyone. State Democrat leader Ricky Cole immediately retorted.

“Not so fast, Delbert. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act remains in place. The federal courts remain in place. Those of us in this state who care about Voting Rights remain in place. And we shall not sit idly by,” he said in a press release.

“Voting is a right, not a privilege. Voting rights were won by blood in Mississippi. We will never yield in our defense of the full and equal rights of every Mississippi citizen. And we have not yet begun to fight.”

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was the state’s first Republican leader to comment.

“I am pleased the U.S. Supreme Court found the formula on which Mississippi is judged under the Voting Rights Act is outdated. However, the practice of preclearance unfairly applied to certain states should be eliminated in recognition of the progress Mississippi has made over the past 48 years.”

That was followed by Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker.

“Today’s decision is a good step in returning power back to the states. As the Court noted, the criteria being used by the Justice Department to implement portions of the ‘Voting Rights Act’ are outdated. I welcome today’s ruling to treat all states equally under the law and hope it will finally clear the way for Mississippi to implement our commonsense voter identification laws in a way that is fair to all citizens,” said Wicker, with Cochran echoing the sentiments.

Cong. Bennie Thompson joined Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in immediately condemning the court’s decision, saying the court had “swept away nearly 50 years of Civil Rights” history.

What else may be in store following the court’s decision is unclear at this point, but it would not be a far stretch to say that political rhetoric on the issue will likely continue for months.

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