WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) 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.
“In order to fully honor John Lewis’ life and legacy and the historic struggle to guarantee voting rights for all Americans, we must restore the monumental bill he and so many others risked their lives to secure,” said Senator Cardin. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, is a chance for us to make clear yet again that we cannot stand by as voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of communities of color infringes upon the rights of citizens and our democratic values. Actions speak louder than words; the Senate must pass this bill to continue our late colleagues’ life’s work and hold our nation true to its most fundamental promise.”
“John Lewis fought his whole life for every single American’s right to participate in our democracy. While Majority Leader McConnell praised Lewis’s work after his death, he has still refused to allow a vote on the bill Lewis championed to restore the Voting Rights Act and knock down barriers to voting that disproportionately disenfranchise people of color,” said Senator Van Hollen. “The House version of this bill has been on McConnell’s desk for almost eight months – to truly honor Lewis’s legacy and life’s work, the Senate must act.”
Calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote on this vital bipartisan legislation, Senator 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.”
Along with Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, and Leahy, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).
The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.
A summary of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.