The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act has "pushed us back into a kind of plutocracy where the rich shall inherit the earth," former U.N. Ambassador and Congressman Andrew Young says.
"When we passed the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago, it was a Republican court and it was Republican judges that made it possible to march from Selma to Montgomery," Young told Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show."
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He was referring to the March 7, 1965, demonstration in Alabama — known as "Bloody Sunday" — in which 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with clubs and tear gas. It was one of three marches in the state that year.
"We've changed in the sense that we flipped — and this is no longer the Republican Party of Lincoln. This is the party of suppression. You have to keep fighting on this, but the Supreme Court certainly isn't helping any."
In a 5-4 ruling with the court's conservatives in the majority, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had used obsolete reasoning in continuing to force nine states, primarily in the South, to get federal approval for voting rule changes affecting blacks and other minorities.
The court backed officials from Shelby County, Ala., by declaring invalid a section of the law that set a formula that determined which states needed federal approval to change voting laws.
The Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 to end a century of attempts by former slave-holding states to block blacks from voting, was a key achievement of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, led by Martin Luther King Jr.
"The Supreme Court didn't do anything to advance the vote, but it may wake up a lot of citizens to realize that in addition to filing lawsuits, we might have to have other approaches to secure the right to vote," said Young, the former Atlanta mayor and a King protégé. "You're going to see all kinds of changes across the South that try to go back to gerrymandering and minimizing the effect of minority voters."
Young, who retired last year from the GoodWorks International global advisory firm he founded in 1996, said he doubted whether a divided Congress would move to remedy the court's ruling legislatively anytime soon.
"But I don't expect to have a Republican-controlled House forever," Young told Malzberg.
"We have an election in another year, and their inaction on other issues, their failure to take into consideration the role of the United States of America in the world, and the whole issue of women's rights and the rights of the Hispanic and immigration situation — there's going to be more effort on the voting."
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