Legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act (VRA) remains stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress. But as the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that gutted the landmark civil rights law approaches, supporters of the measure aren’t giving up the fight, despite long odds. A coalition of civil rights, voting rights, labor, and other progressive groups plan to mark the June 25 anniversary by rallying in the Virginia district of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee where the legislation has been bottled up. “In this 50th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, voters are more vulnerable to discrimination than at any time since the law was first passed in 1965,” Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. “Congressional leadership has yet to act on restoring the law.”
Asked to respond, a House Judiciary aide offered no sign that Goodlatte’s position has changed. “[S]trong remedies against unconstitutional voting discrimination remain in place today,” the aide said in an email. “We will continue to monitor this very important issue to ensure that the voting rights of all Americans are protected.”
The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder neutered the strongest provision of the landmark civil rights law. Known as Section 5, it required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit any changes to their election rules to the federal government for sign-off before they could go into effect. The court ruled by 5-4 that the formula for determining which areas were covered was out of date.