Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.
Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.
It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.
Today, 93 years after the League was founded to help democratize the right to vote, the voting rights of all Americans - or the "emblem of our equality"- are at deep risk. Later this month, the Supreme Court will review Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case that questions the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. Based on the 15th Amendment, which gave voting rights to people of color after the Civil War, the VRA ensures that every American citizen, regardless of race, has an equal right to vote by providing for effective enforcement. In its review of the VRA, the Supreme Court will focus on Section 5, which applies to specific states or jurisdictions with histories of discriminatory voting practices and requires that these jurisdictions obtain "preclearance," or federal approval, for proposed changes to elections laws. Since our founding 93 years ago, the League of Women Voters has fought for voting rights and to ensure that our elections are fair, free and accessible to all eligible citizens. The VRA, with Section 5 in particular, is indispensable to that work. Should the Court rule against the VRA, millions of Americans could face disenfranchisement. That's why we've joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in filing an amicus brief in support of the VRA and Section 5. We firmly believe that for the Supreme Court to do anything but uphold Section 5 would be to turn back 50 years of progress by blocking effective enforcement of voting rights for all. Even as recently as this past election cycle, Section 5 helped block a number of proposed election laws that would have discriminated against minority voters. What's more as the Shelby case approaches, disenfranchisement and discrimination based on race remains a sad reality in our election system. Politicians across the country are waging widespread attacks on voting rights, including attempts to mandate restrictive voter ID laws that will limit voting access, redraw districts to maintain their power, and limit early voting options. In January, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said the nation has been facing some of "the greatest attacks on voting rights since segregation," and the potential repeal of Section 5 is the biggest threat yet.
The Voting Rights Act is an essential part of American democracy. The thought that the Supreme Court might overrule Congress and take away voting rights should send a chill down the spine of every American. Based on an extensive record of current discrimination, Congress reauthorized the VRA in 2006 and President Bush signed it into law. It would be wrong for the Supreme Court to challenge the role of Congress and the President in our constitutional system. As the League celebrates our 93rd birthday and marks nearly a century of work on voting rights, we hope that the Supreme Court recognizes the importance of blocking racial discrimination in voting and upholds the Voting Rights Act. As our founder, Carrie Chapman Catt said, the vote is the "emblem of our equality," and we must do everything in our power to preserve it.
It is currently possible to suspend legislators with a two-thirds vote, but not to suspend their salary or benefits. This measure would allow, but not require, the Legislature to suspend a member and deem the salary and benefits forfeited.
Such actions are highly unusual: the three senators suspended in 2014 were the first suspended in the 164 years of the Legislature. Over the years, five senators have been expelled, and several senators accused of corruption resigned in 1985. The Assembly has never suspended or expelled a member.