House Democrats Introduce John Lewis Voting Rights Legislation

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Politics|House Democrats present a caller measure to beef up the Voting Rights Act.

Representative Carl Sherman of Texas spoke astatine  a objection  successful  enactment    of voting rights successful  Washington past  month.
Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Nicholas Fandos

  • Aug. 17, 2021, 2:12 p.m. ET

Democrats connected Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited linchpin of their thrust to support voting rights, introducing authorities that would marque it easier for the national authorities to artifact authorities predetermination rules recovered to beryllium discriminatory to nonwhite voters.

House leaders expect to walk the bill, named the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act aft the precocious civilian rights icon, during a uncommon August league adjacent week. They accidental it would reconstruct the afloat unit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 aft a brace of adverse Supreme Court rulings and that it would assistance combat a question of restrictive caller predetermination laws successful Republican-led states.

“Today, aged battles person go caller again arsenic we look the astir pernicious battle connected the close to ballot successful generations,” said Representative Terri Sewell, the bill’s main writer and a Democrat from Alabama’s civilian rights belt, wherever Mr. Lewis and others staged a nationalist run for voting rights successful the 1960s. “It’s clear: national oversight is urgently needed.”

But similar different voting rights authorities to travel earlier Congress this year, its chances of passing the evenly divided Senate are exceedingly narrow. Only 1 Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is apt to enactment the legislation, leaving Democrats acold abbreviated of the 60 votes they would request to interruption a Republican filibuster and nonstop the measure to President Biden’s desk.

Senate Republicans already blocked Democrats’ different marquee voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which would found nationalist mandates for aboriginal and mail-in voting and extremity gerrymandering of legislature districts. And portion Democratic leaders successful the Senate person vowed much votes connected the substance successful September, unless each 50 Democrats unite successful a long-shot bid to alteration Senate filibuster rules, they are headed for an identical outcome.

The authorities introduced by Ms. Sewell connected Tuesday is an effort to reconstruct cardinal pieces of the landmark 1965 voting measure struck down oregon weakened by the Supreme Court implicit the past decade. Doing so, its proponents say, would marque it acold harder for states to restrict voting entree successful the future.

The astir consequential ruling dates to 2013, erstwhile the justices efficaciously invalidated a conception of the instrumentality that required states and localities with a past of discriminatory voting rules to wide immoderate changes to their elections policies with the national government. At the time, the justices said that the look utilized to find which states were taxable to clearance was retired of day and invited Congress to update it.

The measure besides attempts to respond to a determination conscionable past period successful Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee that efficaciously made it much hard to situation authorities voting laws arsenic discriminatory successful tribunal utilizing a antithetic proviso of the law.

Voting rights activists fearfulness the 2 decisions volition marque it acold easier for those successful powerfulness to marginalize voters of colour astatine the ballot container and during the once-in-a-decade redistricting process underway this year. Just this year, much than a twelve Republican-led states person enacted restrictive caller voting laws.

“We person seen an upsurge successful changes to voting laws that marque it much hard for number citizens to ballot and that is adjacent earlier we face a circular of decennial redistricting wherever jurisdictions whitethorn gully caller maps that person the intent oregon effect of diluting oregon retrogressing number voting strength,” Kristen Clarke, the adjunct lawyer wide for civilian rights, told a House sheet connected Monday.

Republicans joined Democrats successful ample numbers to reauthorize the afloat Voting Rights Act arsenic precocious arsenic 2006. But since the precocious court’s 2013 decision, they person shown small involvement successful updating the statute, arguing that favoritism is mostly a happening of the past and that the national authorities ought to enactment retired of states’ rights to acceptable their ain predetermination rules.

Asked astir the measure connected Tuesday, Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the apical Republican connected the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of ignoring “real problems” similar the situation of Afghanistan, the influx of migrants astatine the confederate borderline and rising transgression “in favour of pushing a extremist far-left governmental agenda.”

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