WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Patrick Leahy in introducing legislation to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and stop the spread of voter suppression. The legislation—the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—is named for the late Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights movement, and reflects an update to legislation introduced in the last Congress.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Shelby County decision in 2013—which crippled the federal government’s ability under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent discriminatory changes to voting laws and procedures—many states across the country have unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised tens of thousands of American voters. The Supreme Court’s Brnovich decision earlier this year delivered yet another blow to the Voting Rights Act, making it significantly harder for plaintiffs to win lawsuits against discriminatory voting laws or procedures.
“It is critical that we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect the fundamental right to vote,” the Senators said. “We are proud to cosponsor this legislation that will restore the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of the civil rights movement.”
Last month, Kaine introduced the Freedom to Vote Act to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense election integrity reforms, and protect our democracy from attacks. The Freedom to Vote Act, supported by Senator Warner, contains provisions expanding voting by mail, early voting, and taking other steps to make voting easier and safer, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would prevent undue restrictions on the right to vote by restoring the Department of Justice’s power to review potential restrictive changes to voting rules.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is endorsed by the following leading civil rights organizations: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.
A section-by-section analysis of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.
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