Community Voices: Redistricting should protect minority voting rights

Kevin C. Peterson | 9/13/2011, 11:16 p.m.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case Lulac v. Perry, minority plaintiffs were supported in their claim that Latino citizens were violated in their attempt to create a majority-minority U.S. House of Representative seat based upon their population in the state.

In Johnson v. Degrandy, the rights of minority voters to maximize their their political influence, when feasible and when possible, were duly affirmed. In Miller v. Johnson, the Supreme Court articulated the extraordinary value of the Voting Rights Act.

 In its decision the court acknowledges the Voting Rights Act in “its grant of authority to the federal courts to uncover official efforts to abridge minorities’ right to vote, [and that it] has been of vital importance in eradicating invidious discrimination from the electoral process and enhancing the legitimacy of our political institutions…

“Only if our political system and our society cleanse themselves of that discrimination will all members of the polity share an equal opportunity to gain public office regardless of race.”  

The outcomes of the redistricting process now underway will certainly dictate the degree to which our state will either thrive as a comity dedicated to unfettered democratic commitments or be reduced to a mere collective of citizens largely unconcerned about the civil rights and protections of minorities.

Kevin C. Peterson is the founder and director of The New Democracy Coalition and co-chair of The Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition. This is an excerpt from Peterson’s open letter to Gov. Deval Patrick.