Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led 47 other senators in introducing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act, end the scourge of minority voter suppression, and help preserve the legacy of John Lewis – one of America’s greatest civil rights heroes.
In 2013, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical voter protections within the Voting Rights Act, crippling the federal government’s ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. In the wake of Shelby County, states across the country unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised minority voters. These patently discriminatory efforts to restrict access to the ballot box undermine the progress and equality that John Lewis fought hard over the decades to achieve, from his time as a civil rights movement leader to his tenure in Congress. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act, as well as provide the federal government with other critical tools to combat what has become a full-fledged assault on Americans’ right to vote.
Calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote on this vital bipartisan legislation, Leahy said: “John called voting ‘the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.’ He was right. And that’s why we cannot stand idly by while states engage in flagrant suppression schemes to take this tool away from marginalized communities. The House already passed the companion to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in December. Now we must do our part. We cannot claim to honor the life of John Lewis if we refuse to carry on his life’s work.”