The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is teeing off on Republicans over the absence of voting right protections in the GOP’s new congressional agenda. Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said he’s “deeply troubled” by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) recent comments that Republicans have no intention of replacing central provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) shot down by the Supreme Court in 2013. “If this is indeed the position of the entire Republican Conference, then they have clearly drawn a line in the sand — one in which they are on the wrong side of,” Butterfield said in a statement. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Goodlatte said congressional action is simply not necessary to improve the VRA because the parts of the law remaining after the Supreme Court ruling are “substantial.”
“To this point, we have not seen a process forward that is necessary because we believe the Voting Rights Act provided substantial protection in this area,” he said during a breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
In its 5-4 decision in June 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the VRA’s decades-old coverage formula, which had required certain states to get federal approval before changing election rules. The law had applied on a blanket basis to nine states — most of them in the South — with documented histories of racial discrimination.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that, while Congress has the authority to monitor elections for fairness, the coverage formula is outdated and therefore unconstitutional. Roberts invited Congress to “draft another formula based on current conditions.”