WASHINGTON — A new bipartisan Congressional proposal would once again require Georgia and three other states to submit all voting laws to the federal government for “pre-clearance” — rewriting a Voting Rights Act formula the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional last year.
The bill was introduced Thursday by a key House Republican and a Senate Democrat. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said he wants to move forward on the issue, though the Virginia Republican did not immediately endorse the new proposal.
The new plan’s backers pointed to overwhelming support for reauthorizing the full Voting Rights Act in 2006 and said the bill was designed to withstand political and constitutional challenges.
“The swift action we took on this issue demonstrates the importance of the right to vote (for) members on both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and former civil rights movement leader. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society.”
In June the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the formula used to put nine states and parts of six others with a history of overt discrimination in their voting laws under pre-clearance, in which all new laws must be cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. Chief Justice John Roberts, in the 5-4 decision, put the onus on Congress to come up with a pre-clearance formula with a modern standard — rather than one based on 1965 data.