House GOP member: High court blundered with Voting Rights Act decision
WASHINGTON — A House Republican lawmaker said the Supreme Court's decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, rolling back a core part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act “severely weakened” election protections.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Roberts's majority opinion ignored provisions in the law that allow voting jurisdictions to escape coverage if they show compliance with anti-discrimination rules.
The fact that areas targeted by the law haven't qualified for that escape provision “is evidence that the VRA's extraordinary measures are still necessary,” said Sensenbrenner, 70. He was House Judiciary Committee chairman when Congress reauthorized the law in 2006.
“Voter discrimination still exists, and our progress toward equality should not be mistaken for a final victory,” the Wisconsin Republican said.
The hearing on the Voting Rights Act was the first by the Judiciary Committee since the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling on June 25 invalidated the formula for determining which states need federal approval before changing election rules.
The court said Congress lacked grounds for requiring some states, and not others, to obtain federal approval. Roberts's majority opinion said Congress may create a new formula based on current voting conditions in specific jurisdictions.
Less than 16 months before the 2014 election, little consensus has developed between the Democratic majority in the Senate and the Republican-controlled House on revising the landmark civil-rights law. It has been used to halt thousands of state and local voting changes, including voter-identification laws in Texas and South Carolina last year.
“No one's right to vote in any part of this great nation should be suppressed or denied, but yet we continue to see that discriminatory practice today,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, urged Democrats to propose a fix to the court's ruling.
“We could cover the whole country,” Grassley said. “We could identify jurisdictions engaging in discrimination in the 21st century.” On the day of the court's ruling, he said the law was no longer necessary because states covered by it “don't have discriminatory voting any more.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Military: Jet in Virginia crash based in Mass.
- Court overturns convictions in Amish hair attacks
- Girl accidentally kills Arizona gun instructor with Uzi
- Teen gets 5-15 years for killing 4 friends in 100-mph crash
- Issa demands Labor records that he says show government waste
- Suspected serial stowaway arrested in Ariz.
- Senate to look at earthquake risks at California nuke plant
- Legal experts back business push for immigration changes
- Conn. expert set to guide Obamacare exchanges
- Powerful GOP leaders linked to tax-avoidance
- Audio of Mo. shooting emerges, said to be authentic