Rep. Deutch Introduces H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to Restore Protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Today, U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-22), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) and others to introduce H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation that restores federal oversight for states with a recent history of voter discrimination.
Eight years after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act addresses a wave of restrictive, anti-voter laws being enacted at the state level.
"John Lewis was a hero of mine before I got to Congress in 2010," Rep. Deutch said. "When we voted that same year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, I congratulated Mr. Lewis on this tribute to his work. He spent the next half hour sharing with me the immense hurdles that were constantly put before him and the other brave Civil Rights pioneers who simply wanted everyone to be able to vote. It is in memory and honor of the late John Lewis, my colleague and friend, that I am proud to cosponsor this act.
"With this bill, we are continuing John's legacy to ensure that every eligible American is able to cast a vote and have it counted. Especially against the backdrop of today's coordinated state-level efforts to restrict the right to vote, it is imperative that Congress act to restore confidence and transparency in the election system for every American in every state. Prioritizing accessibility to the ballot and preserving the right to vote for all Americans shouldn't be partisan, and I hope my Republican colleagues will support this crucial effort to respect and strengthen American democracy."
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act seeks to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Specifically, the bill will take into account the Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013 by establishing an updated formula for determining which states and localities must obtain federal pre-clearance before making changes to their voting laws. It also establishes a targeted process for reviewing voting changes based on measures that have historically been used to discriminate against voters.
For areas to qualify for judicial pre-clearance, they must have the following qualifications:
The bill also addresses the decision in Brnovich v. DNC by eliminating the heightened standard created by the Court to challenge racially discriminatory laws under Section 2.
The House of Representatives is set to consider H.R. 4 next week
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the nation’s most effective defense against racially discriminatory voting policies. It has prevented discriminatory barriers to voting across the country for decades.
Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, and again in the Brnovich v. DNC decision in July 2021, there has been a steady increase in the number of restrictive voting laws that disproportionately suppress turnout among minorities, young adults, and the elderly. This accelerated with the Big Lie of a “stolen election.”
Just this year, 18 states have enacted at least 30 laws to restrict access to the vote for millions of voters across the country.