House Democrats introduce John Lewis' voting rights legislation

Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited pillar of their drive to protect voting rights, introducing legislation that would make it ...


Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited pillar of their drive to protect voting rights, introducing legislation that would make it easier for the federal government to block election rules in states deemed discriminatory against non-white voters.

House leaders expect to pass the bill, named the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after the deceased civil rights icon, in a rare session in August next week. They say it would restore the full force of the 1965 Voting Rights Act after a pair of unfavorable Supreme Court rulings and help fight a wave of new restrictive election laws in Republican-led states.

“Today, the old battles are new again as we face the most pernicious attack on the franchise in generations,” said Representative Terri Sewell, chief author of the bill and Democrat of the the Alabama Civil Rights Belt, where Mr. Lewis and others organized a nationwide campaign for the franchise in the 1960s. “Clearly, federal oversight is urgently needed. “

But like other voting rights laws coming before Congress this year, its chances of passing the equally divided Senate are extremely slim. Only one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is likely to back the legislation, leaving Democrats well below the 60 votes they would need to break a Republican obstruction and send the bill to President Biden’s office.

Senate Republicans already stranded Democrats’ other voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which would establish national mandates for early and postal voting and end the gerrymandering of congressional districts. And while Democratic Senate leadership pledged more votes on the issue in September, unless the 50 Democrats unite in a long-term attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, they are heading towards an identical result.

The legislation introduced by Ms Sewell on Tuesday is an effort to restore key elements of the historic 1965 voting bill struck down or weakened by the Supreme Court over the past decade. According to his supporters, this would make it much more difficult for states to restrict access to voting in the future.

The most consistent decision date 2013, when judges effectively struck down a section of the law that required states and localities with a history of discriminatory voting rules to allow any changes to their electoral policies with the federal government. At the time, judges said the formula used to determine which states were subject to licensing was outdated and urged Congress to update it.

The bill also attempts to respond to a ruling last month by Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee this effectively made it more difficult to challenge state election laws as discriminatory in court by using a different provision of the law.

Voting rights activists fear the two decisions will make it much easier for those in power to marginalize voters of color at the polls and during the decade-long redistribution process underway this year. This year alone, more than a dozen Republican-led states enacted restrictive new election laws.

“We have seen an upsurge in changes to electoral laws that make it more difficult for minority citizens to vote and this is even before we are faced with a series of ten-year redistributions where jurisdictions can draw new maps that have for aim or effect of diluting or demoting the minority voting power, ”Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights, told a House panel on Monday.

Republicans have joined Democrats in large numbers to re-authorize the entire voting rights law in 2006. But since the 2013 High Court ruling, they have shown little interest in updating the voting rights law. law, arguing that discrimination is largely a thing of the past and that the federal government should stay outside the rights of states to set their own electoral rules.

Asked about the bill on Tuesday, Russell Dye, spokesman for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of ignoring “real issues” like the crisis Afghan, the influx of migrants to the southern border. and growing crime “in favor of the promotion of a radical far left political program”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: House Democrats introduce John Lewis' voting rights legislation
House Democrats introduce John Lewis' voting rights legislation
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