By Brian Beutler
The unusual nature of the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act has created a kind of limbo for conservatives in southern states who want to flood their legislatures with voter ID laws and other disenfranchising policies, and thrown into Congress’ lap an unexpected issue that will have enormous ramifications for the 2014 elections and beyond.
Where this all ends, nobody knows, but we’re beginning to see how it starts.
Congressional Democrats are already setting wheels in motion to fix the damage the Court did to the Voting Rights Act, but they’re prepared for a long and complex haul.
Because Democrats only control one chamber of Congress, they’re effectively confined to beginning the process in the Senate, which is why early statements from Senate Dems refer to action they plan to take, while House Dems are stuck pressing Republicans to take the issue seriously.
But that’s enough to sketch out a roadmap by which they might successfully re-establish pre-clearance standards under Voting Rights Act.
“As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I intend to take immediate action to ensure that we will have a strong and reconstituted Voting Rights Act that protects against racial discrimination in voting,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in a statement after the decision.
The initial hearings will begin after Congress returns from Fourth of July recess. But because of the complicated legal nature of the issue, a legislative fix will require a great deal of groundwork and careful drafting to assure it doesn’t run exceed Constitutional limits.