WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and 46 of their Senate colleagues on Tuesday in introducing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Led by Blumenthal and U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), the legislation would restore the Voting Rights Act and stop the spreading scourge of voter suppression. As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Blumenthal has recently convened several hearings on voting rights, including one focusing on state-level discriminatory practices and one on the path forward after the Supreme Court’s decisions in Brnovich and Shelby County.
“The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy, yet Republican legislatures across the country are continuously crafting new ways to deny access to the ballot box. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and strengthen the protections of the bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965 and ensure all Americans have the chance to make their voices heard. I’m proud to honor the life of one of our greatest civil rights heroes by enshrining his legacy in this legislation,” said Murphy.
With more than 400 bills aimed at restricting voting rights that have been introduced in 49 states, and successfully enacted in 18 states this year, Blumenthal said, “Nothing is more fundamental and urgent than this legislation to protect voting rights, which are under unprecedented assault in states around the country. John Lewis was a civil rights hero, an icon, a trailblazer, a model, and a mentor to so many of us. In honor of his memory and in tribute to the ideals of democracy that he championed, we should stand up to this assault on our democracy and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. There is no time to waste.”
For nearly five decades, the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance coverage formula provision required certain states with a history of discriminatory voting practices to obtain approval from the federal government before implementing any voting rules changes. The Supreme Court struck that formula in Shelby County, but in so doing it left open a path for other preclearance formulas. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would include new formulas to revive the preclearance requirements by focusing on jurisdictions with a proven history of discrimination.