The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a June 25 hearing on a long-stalled bill to repair the 1965 Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court weakened the landmark civil rights legislation by weakening key provisions last year. ‘It is time for Congress to act,’ Leahy said in a statement Monday. ‘Just as Congress came together 50 years ago to enact the Civil Rights Act, Democrats and Republicans should work together now to renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, which has always been bipartisan.’ The hearing will occur on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that knocked out parts of the voting rights act and urged Congress to revisit it, saying the law needs updating to account for how times have changed.
A bipartisan, bicameral bill authored by Leahy and Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and John Conyers, D-Mich., attempts to remedy the court’s concerns over the ‘coverage formula,’ the mechanism that decided which states had to get Justice Department approval before making election changes that might disproportionately affect minority voting.
The ruling freed from decades of scrutiny the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as select jurisdictions in California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and South Dakota.