House Republicans have scheduled their first hearing on the Voting Rights Act for Thursday, following a June ruling by the Supreme Court overturning a key provision of the civil rights law. The hearing, to be held by the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, comes a day after the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the law for the first time since the ruling. The 5-4 decision found that Congress had not appropriately considered the nation’s racial progress when signaling out a set of states that required preclearance from the federal government before making any changes to election or voting laws. The states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as parts of seven other states — were selected by a congressionally mandated formula examining past history of voting rights abuses.
But the court ruled applying that decades-old standard was no longer appropriate, and if Congress wanted to continue the preclearance process, it needed to update its formula for targeting jurisdictions.
“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision.