Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pressing GOP leaders for a hearing to address their growing concerns over the erosion of voting rights. Behind Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking member of the panel, the lawmakers are warning top Republicans that the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision dismantling part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) threatens a wave of discrimination at the polls in November. In a letter sent Friday to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the committee’s Constitution subpanel, the Democrats called for a hearing “without further delay” to study the potential roadblocks facing voters this year, particularly in states that have enacted tougher voting laws since the Supreme Court ruling. Some of those new laws, the Democrats contend, “disproportionately prevent or discourage minorities from voting.”
“This year will be the first presidential election during which voters will be without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 since its original passage,” the Democrats wrote. “Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act, and as the committee of jurisdiction, it is our responsibility to lead that process.”
At issue is a section of the VRA — a landmark of the Civil Rights era — that had required certain states with documented histories of race-based discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting rules.
In its 5-4 ruling three years ago, the Supreme Court found that, while the federal government has the power to oversee elections for the sake of fighting discrimination, the formula underlying the “pre-clearance” requirement was outdated and therefore unconstitutional.
Full Article: Judiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights | TheHill.