National: Senators squabble over voting rights, underscoring deep division on state efforts | Todd Ruger/Roll Call
A divisive Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday made it clear that Senate action on voting rights remains highly unlikely under the chamber’s current rules, as 47 states consider hundreds of proposed laws that would make it harder to vote. Democrats likened the push for new laws in the wake of the 2020 elections to Jim Crow-era laws, using as a main example a Georgia law that changed rules for mail-in ballots and early voting. It can take years and a lot of money for lawsuits to knock down provisions that target minorities, such as a South Carolina proposal to end early voting on Sundays that would effectively prohibit voting participation efforts favored by Black churches, testified Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Justice Department used to be able to review new voting laws in states like Georgia that had a history of discriminatory voting laws, but the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted that enforcement provision of a landmark voting rights protection law. “This is not a model that can be sustained in a healthy democracy,” Ifill said. “We need Congress to act.” But several Republicans took exception to the “Jim Crow 2021” title of the hearing, and the hearing took a partisan and sometimes personal turn — a sign that the new Democratic majority might need to change filibuster rules if it wants to pass what Democrats consider one of their top priorities.