According to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, (CBCF) the historic rulings this week by the U.S. Supreme Court are a wakeup call for African Americans to pay greater attention to the legislative process and to judicial nominations. Each indelibly shape our country’s public polices for generations to come.
Clearly, as evidenced by the Supreme Court’s ruling this week on the Voting Rights Act (VRA), there is a need now more than ever to ensure diversity in our courts. The 5-4 ruling effectively struck down one of the most significant provisions in the VRA designed to prevent racial discrimination at the ballot box. Initially implemented to ensure a fair process for African Americans to express the full measure of their citizenship at the polls, Section 4 was expanded to include provisions that account for limited English proficiency, lack of adequate information on how to register and vote, and other socioeconomic indicators as well and is critical to ensuring present discrimination at the polls is addressed. The ruling rolls back the progress we’ve made to date, and will continue to have disproportionate and harmful effects on African Americans, low income communities, and people of color. It is incumbent that our Congressional leaders pass legislation for us to continue to make progress and guarantee every American the right to vote.
It has never been clearer that the Supreme Court and federal courts across the country must mirror the racial and gender diversity of the myriad of communities and cities that form our nation.
According to the United States Courts, there are nearly 80 federal judicial vacancies in Circuit and District courts across the country. Sixty-one of the vacancies are in U.S. District Courts. Of that 61, 20 nominees to the bench are awaiting Senate confirmation. Many of the nominees are women and people of color who bring a wealth of legal acumen, expertise and diverse cultural backgrounds to the practice of law. These are Presidential nominees who have waited more than a hundred days for a floor vote for a yay or nay on their confirmations. Delays in Senate confirmations of judicial vacancies impact millions. The longer vacancies on the bench remain; cases linger for years, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
“African Americans and people of color across the country cannot afford to be casual observers of or mere bystanders to legislative and judicial confirmation processes,” said A. Shuanise Washington, president and chief executive officer of CBCF. “We must become civically engaged and hold our lawmakers responsible for the delays and inaction that ultimately put our communities at risk by straining court systems and putting greater pressure on dwindling state and federal budgets.”
CBCF is committed to educating our stakeholders about public policy issues which impact the African-American community. During our Annual Legislative Conference (September 18-21, 2013 in Washington, DC), we will host more than 70 issue forums and Braintrusts designed to raise awareness and educate participants on these and other important issues confronting the African-American community.