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John Roberts Voting Rights Act Comments Wrong, Massachusetts Official William Galvin Says

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JOHN ROBERTS VOTING RIGHTS ACT
(AP Photo/Win McNamee, Pool) | AP

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin is calling out Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for making "deceptive" and "disturbing" remarks about voting rates among minorities in the Bay State.

Justices heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the part of the Voting Rights Act that forces places with a history of discrimination, like the Deep South, to get approval before changing the way elections are held. During the arguments, Roberts asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli if he knew "which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout," claiming that state is Massachusetts.

“I’m calling him out,” Galvin told the Boston Globe.

“We have one of the highest voter registrations in the country, so this whole effort to make a cheap-shot point at Massachusetts is deceptive,” Galvin said.

Galvin didn't dispute Roberts' point, but said Massachusetts shouldn't be falsely represented in the Chief Justice's argument.

“The concept of black communities in Massachusetts not voting is an old slur, and it’s not true,” Galvin said. “I guess the point [Roberts] is trying to make is Mississippi is doing so much better they don’t need the Voting Rights Act. He can still relay that conclusion, but he shouldn’t be using phony statistics. It’s deceptive, and it’s truly disturbing.”

Galvin wasn't the only one to question Roberts' comments. Tito Jackson, Boston city councilor and political director for Gov. Deval Patrick's most recent campaign, said Massachusetts has "seen a great ­increase in voter participation in communities of color, particularly among African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian."

The AP reports a Supreme Court spokeswoman refused to offer supporting evidence of Roberts' comments.

Roberts' comments during the hearings weren't the only ones that caused alarm. Questions posed by Justice Anthony Kennedy -- who HuffPost's Ryan Reilly reports "is likely the only hope that voting rights advocates and the Obama administration have for the Supreme Court to uphold a crucial component of the Voting Rights Act" -- alarmed progressives.

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