Democratic lawmakers hope to pass sweeping legislation that would reinstate portions of the Voting Rights Act previously struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Washington Examiner reports.
Specifically, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced HR4, known as the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, on Tuesday. If the measure ultimately becomes law, it would likely spark a serious legal battle, according to reports.
Supreme Court establishes precedent
The bill is one of many Democratic-backed proposals intended to hand the federal government more control over the nation’s elections.
If successful, HR4 would serve as a direct challenge to a Supreme Court decision from 2013.
In the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the nation’s highest court removed the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act, which had mandated that any states with a history of voter suppression receive federal clearance for any election law changes.
When the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1964, the nation was experiencing horrendous election-related violations across several southern states. In response, some provisions of the bill passed Congress that the Supreme Court determined should not have been implemented.
The court spent decades revising the law only to see today’s Democratic Party take the unprecedented step of directly challenging those revisions.
Democrats raise the stakes
Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky explained what the passage of HR4 would actually accomplish.
“This new provision actually expands the previous preclearance requirement by not only bringing that back so that certain states will have to get everything reviewed, but it puts in a new provision called practice-based preclearance,” he said. “What that means is, that will affect every single county in every single state across the country.”
In practical terms, the Democratic-sponsored bill represents a partisan power grab that will be used to target voter identification requirements nationwide. Given the left’s apparent disregard for past precedent, the Supreme Court and GOP lawmakers should issue a clear advance warning against contradicting previous court rulings.
For their part, Republicans must remain vigilant against schemes to centralize control of elections. If Democrats achieve their goal, it will be more difficult than ever for Republicans to win national races.
Although the chances of HR4 advancing through an evenly divided Senate are currently slim, it seems clear that congressional Democrats have no intention of giving up on their lofty plans.