A fascinating process to watch

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

Ever since Shelby County first filed suit to challenge certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, I’ve watched the progression of the case with interest.

However, I must say that a few years ago, when the suit was filed, I certainly didn’t expect it to make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I never expected it to bring so much attention to Shelby County.

Covering a June 14 rally in support of the Voting Rights Act in front of the Shelby County Courthouse was a fascinating experience. Listening to Louis Farrakhan speak, I understood just how the man has gained so much respect from his admirers. He spoke passionately about the journey black people have made throughout United States history and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act — an entreaty the court would eventually repudiate.

The crowd gathered there was a passionate one, deeply committed to their cause and totally willing to share their experiences. I was touched by the attitude of attendee Betty Boynton, who marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 along with Martin Luther King Jr.

“I didn’t go across that bridge in 1965 for nothing, to take my rights away from me,” she said. “I’m a foot soldier. I’m still on the battlefield.”

The morning the Supreme Court decision was handed down, my eyes were glued to a live blog, waiting to see which way the decision would go. I had been expecting a 5-4 decision and knew that Justice Anthony Kennedy would likely be the swing vote. I did think there was a good chance the court would overturn those sections of the Voting Rights Act, but I wasn’t certain.

As soon as the live blog refreshed and gave us the news that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Shelby County, I was struck with the knowledge that Shelby County was an integral part of a turning point in American history.

It’s been fascinating to watch this process unfold, and I’m interested to watch what happens moving forward. I doubt this is the last we’ve heard of this.

Amy Jones is the associate editor of the Shelby County Reporter.