Under the pretense that racism had finally ended in the United States with the election of the First Black President, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act eight years ago by disabling Section 5 and deciding that the formula to define voter suppression needed updating in order to better reflect the modern-day hurdles American voters faced. Ever since that decision, Republican-controlled states and legislatures embraced more fully their evil creativity, drafting and passing legislation that severely hindered voting access to mainly Black Voters, Indigenous Voters, and Voters of Color.
After mobilizing the nation like never before, Democrats were able to beat unimaginable voter-suppression tactics in 2020 and regain control of the White House, maintain control of the House of Representatives, and hold a very slim majority in the Senate. Now is the time for them to undo the harm Republicans have caused to Voting Rights, and to set the stage for future elections by cementing new laws that would expand Voting Rights and halt in their tracks any attempts to draft legislation that would limit voters’ easy and equal access to the polls.
In case you’re wondering if we’re there yet, Joe Biden had already confirmed that he will be pushing for Voting Rights in August of 2021; today, we are June 2, 2021. There are multiple key components to why he chose August, one of them was for his choice to head the Justice Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, to be confirmed as Assistant Attorney General, and to take charge of her staff and department; her confirmation was purposely stalled by Republicans in the Senate but finally happened last week on May 25, 2021. Yes in case you’ve forgotten, we’re only four months into the Biden Administration; not years, months. It doesn’t matter if it feels to some like ages already, good meaningful and lasting progress still takes time, especially when you’re profiting from a very slim majority, and dealing with a filibuster while attempting to pass the most important legislation in a lifetime.
In order to undo the harm Republicans all over the country are still attempting to cause Voting Rights, Democrats have drafted two bills that would separately address and redress the failures of a system built on purposely limiting access by skin color, and punish people and organizations offering aid and assistance to voters.
H.R. 1 – For The People Act is meant to expand Voting Rights, reduce the influence of money in politics by changing campaign finance laws, limit partisan gerrymandering, and hold federal officeholders to new strict ethics rules. The first time the bill passed the House of Representatives by a Democratic Majority was on March 8, 2019; it then went to die with the other hundreds of other bills on Mitch McConnell’s desk who made it his mission to obstruct anything and everything from getting on the Senate floor; his objective was to limit passing meaningful legislation while stuffing the courts with lifetime appointments of ultra-conservative judges. However, with the election of Joe Biden and Democrats maintaining control of the House, the For The People Act was reintroduced as H.R. 1 and the bill passed the House on March 3, 2021 with a near-partisan line (220-210). It has since then advanced as S. 1 to the Senate were it needs to overcome the filibuster in order to have a chance at becoming law.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is the response to what the Supreme Court demanded when it handicapped the VRA eight years ago; it is a new coverage formula that addresses the modern-day discrimination issues and is specifically tailored to broaden the scope of the courts, amending applicable portions of the VRA that presently limit violations to those pertaining to the 14th and 15th Amendments by changing the specific wording to: “violations of this Act, or violations of any Federal law that prohibits discrimination in voting on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” This change will specifically protect voters from discrimination and voter suppression tactics and will directly put an end to creative Republican legislation meant to punish voters and those aiding them and assisting them while awaiting their turn at the polls. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act was first introduced in 2019, and had already passed the House of Representatives with bipartisanship support (228-187). It has yet to be reintroduced in 2021 as Democrats are first prioritizing how to handicap the filibuster.
Both the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act address specific voter-suppression tactics and would undo past and present Republican attempts to punish voters and limit their access to cast their ballots. Both bills will forever change how the subject matter of Voting Rights is tackled, uprooting systemic voter racism from the ground up, chasing it away from state Governor mansions all the way to the chambers of the Senate, and halting in their tracks any Jim-Crow type legislations from even being drafted as this will raise alarms and quickly attract the ire of the U.S. Department of Justice giving it automatic clearance to meddle and conduct its own investigations into these attempts.
If you listen to House Majority Whip Clyburn’s interview in the link above, the objective is to at least have the John Lewis Voting Rights Act on Joe Biden’s desk by August 6, 2021, 56 years to the day after President Johnson officially signed the VRA into law. There’s a lot to take into consideration, a lot at play and at stake, and building the right momentum, taking control of the right narrative are all important key components to profit from this specific moment in time that gifted Democrats with a slim majority and to attempt the impossible. Timing is of the essence, and leading with a deft steady hand, hoping to have good solid allies in place, will make the difference in the end. So be patient, don’t let misinformation fool you, make a tool out of you, or seek to dumb you down. We have a clear timeline for when to start expecting results, let’s watch and debate how the Biden-Harris Administration’s strategy unfolds.
Have a great Wednesday, Politicadoes!