In the past 10 years, the Supreme Court's rulings in Shelby County v. Holder and Brnovich v. DNC invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decisions, many states have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box by introducing--and in many cases passing--restrictive voting laws.
Reintroduced in September 2023, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would improve the voting process in the United States by modernizing the preclearance formula to cover states with a pattern of discrimination that puts voters at risk, protecting voters from the types of voting changes most likely to discriminate against People of Color and language minorities and requiring that jurisdictions make voting changes public and transparent, among other provisions.
Urge Congress to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) and restore protections against discriminatory voting laws.
On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act. The Court struck down Section 4(b), which contained a formula requiring certain areas with a history of disenfranchisement problems to seek preclearance from the Department of Justice when making changes to election procedures. Dissenting to the court's ruling, Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted, "throwing out preclearence when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
And on July 1, 2021, the Supreme Court ruling in Brnovich v. DNC effectively rewrote Section 2 which prevents a “qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure…in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color,” which made it more difficult to challenge discriminatory voting laws.
In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decisions in the past 10 years, many states previously covered by the invalidated “preclearance" formula and controlled from implementing discriminatory voting practices have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box, by introducing, and in some cases passing, restrictive voting laws. Nearly 100 restrictive voting laws have been passed during the past decade (including a near-record number in the first half of 2023 alone). These laws disproportionately restrict voting rights for People of Color, people with disabilities, voters in low-income and rural communities, elderly voters, and young and first-time voters..
John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) was named after the death of voting and civil rights champion John Lewis, and would modernize, restore, and revitalize the Voting Rights Act on 1965. In his final message to Americans, Lewis charges "ordinary people" with continuing the work for justice observing that "Voting and participating in the democratic process are key."
Join us in calling on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Jewish tradition teaches us that the selection of leaders is not a privilege but a collective responsibility. Rabbi Yitzchak taught that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). In keeping with the insight of this teaching, it is the duty of all who cherish democracy to ensure that all eligible citizens are afforded the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted. The Reform Jewish Movement, long believing that the right to vote is fundamental to American democracy, strongly supports legislation that protects the rights of all citizens to exercise the right to vote.
For More Information:
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