On First Anniversary of Decision Striking Down Core Protections in the Voting Rights Act, Common Calls on Congress to Pass New Safeguards

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  • Dale Eisman

Congress should mark the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder by finally moving forward on the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), Common Cause said today.

“Racial discrimination against voters continues to subvert the integrity of our democracy,” said Miles Rapoport, president of Common Cause, in written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which convened a hearing on the VRAA. “The Voting Rights Amendment Act provides new protections for voters in all 50 states and establishes a modern, flexible standard to restore tools that will stop discrimination before it occurs.”

“The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a bipartisan bill in keeping with the Voting Rights Act’s bipartisan history,” Rapoport said. “We commend Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy for calling today’s hearing and call on the House of Representatives to act immediately. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte should call a hearing and a markup as soon as possible and give his colleagues from both sides of the aisle an opportunity to advance this critical legislation. We cannot give a free pass to discrimination.”

Hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County one year ago this morning, some states began implementing voting law changes that disproportionately affect minority voters. For example, Texas announced that it would immediately begin requiring that voters provide specific forms of identification, implementing a state law that federal courts had previously blocked under the Voting Rights Act. And in the waning hours of North Carolina’s legislative session last summer, the legislature and governor joined forces to eliminate a week of early voting, end Election Day voter registration and enact a strict form of photo identification — all changes that disproportionately affect African American voters. Common Cause has joined in a constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s new law, and the Department of Justice filed suit last fall.