The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights urged Congress on Wednesday to update the landmark law that protects voter rights, finding in a new report that a 2013 Supreme Court decision helped lead to elections with voting measures in place that discriminate against minorities. But opposition from Republican lawmakers has stalled legislation to change the Voting Rights Act of 1965 since the 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down a key enforcement mechanism in the law. Current efforts appear stuck for the same reason.
“Today’s report reflects the reality that citizens in the United States, across many states, not limited only to some parts of the country, continue to suffer significant, and profoundly unequal, limitations on their ability to vote,” commission Chair Catherine Lhamon said in a news release. “That stark reality denigrates our democracy and diminishes our ideals.”
The Shelby County decision struck down Section 4 of the law, which required some states with a history of discriminatory voter laws to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before implementing voting laws. That section created a formula for how states and jurisdictions should comply with the pre-clearance standard, which the conservative justices who formed the majority called outdated and said Congress “may draft another formula based on current conditions.”