The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Monday that it would hold a hearing on voting rights on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The hearing is entitled, “The Voting Rights Amendment Act, S. 1945: Updating the Voting Rights Act in Response to Shelby County v. Holder.” It will be held on Wednesday, June 25 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
In Shelby County, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act—determining which jurisdictions with records of voting discrimination would be subject to preclearance—was unconstitutional. It held that the “coverage” provision was out of date and not responsive to current conditions in voting. The effect of Shelby County was to suspend the preclearance requirement for all states and jurisdictions covered by Section 4(b)––those places with the worst records of voting discrimination.
In January of this year, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act (“VRAA”), known as S. 1945 in the Senate and H.R. 3899 in the House. The VRAA updates and modernizes the Voting Rights Act to combat present-day voting discrimination wherever it may occur. For more information on the VRAA, please see our summary.
Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office, welcomed the Senate hearing: “This hearing shows that Congress can and will respond to the Shelby County decision. In the year since losing key protections for voters, we have seen voting discrimination arise in many forms and in many places. There is no question that a legislative response is necessary and that the time is now. With the Senate announcement, we call upon the House Judiciary Committee to move forward with its own hearing. In nearly 50 years, Congress has never let the country down when it comes to ensuring the continued protections of the Voting Rights Act, and it must not do so now.”