The House Judiciary Committee announced Friday, the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that it is planning to hold a hearing to “invigorate” the civil rights-era law that helped secure voting rights for those facing discriminatory obstacles.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee will hold a hearing on Aug. 16 to “discuss potential legislative responses to ongoing threats to voting rights.”
“With new U.S. Census Bureau data expected to be released next week leading to redistricting efforts taking place across the country, it is essential that we invigorate the [Voting Rights Act] to allow the Department of Justice and our courts to prevent discriminatory practices in the drawing of district lines as well as to stop the rash of discriminatory state laws being enacted,” Mr. Nadler said in a joint statement with subcommittee chairman Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat.
The announcement came shortly after the release of an election subcommittee report on voting access that they said confirms “states have only intensified their efforts to undermine minority voting rights” since two voting rights decisions by the Supreme Court.
“Sadly, despite the progress that had been made under the [Act], our democracy faces a perilous moment, as the right to vote has been under constant threat in many states in recent years,” the committee chairmen said.
They pointed to the high court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which found that the section of the Voting Rights Act governing which states were discriminating against voters was outdated and no longer relevant.
The lawmakers also cited the court’s decision last month in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, which found that two voting laws in Arizona are not racially discriminatory. The ruling upheld the laws that block votes cast in the wrong precinct and restrict who can submit another person’s ballot.
Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, will testify at the hearing.
Earlier this week, 22 Democratic state attorneys general sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of new federal voting protections.
They said the Jan. 6 riot, in which a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, has prompted concerns over future elections.
“Any future attempt to overturn a democratic result will now have a template to work from and more time to prepare,” states the letter, which was sent Aug. 2. “And such an effort is virtually certain to be conducted more competently than the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”
Republican-led efforts around the country are undermining fair elections and confidence in vote counts, and providing cover for people who have tried to subvert the will of voters, they said.
“Whether it is the so-called ‘audit’ in Arizona and the proposed ‘audits’ in Pennsylvania and other states, the passage of restrictive voting laws in 18 states, the expulsion [of Republican Rep. Liz Cheney] due to her insistence on telling the truth about the 2020 presidential election, or Republicans blocking an independent commission to investigate the insurrection, efforts to undermine our democracy clearly have not subsided,” the letter reads.
The group urged leaders in the Senate and House to immediately change the upper chamber’s filibuster and pass federal legislation to protect against voter suppression and election subversion.
The letter was signed by Democratic attorneys general from: California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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