Rep. Sewell Statement on the 56th Anniversary of the Signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) released the following statement on the 56th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965:
“Fifty-six years ago today, the most consequential civil rights law of our time, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. For Black and minority Americans across this nation, the signing of the Voting Rights Act represented the culmination of a decades-long struggle to protect the right to vote from those who have always sought to take it away. It was hard fought by the Foot Soldiers who risked their lives on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama earlier that year, and it meant the chance to finally exercise our most fundamental right as American citizens to have a say in the decisions that affect our lives.
“As Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote just weeks ago, ‘never has a statute done more to advance the nation’s highest ideals.’ Indeed, for decades the Voting Rights Act kept the promise of our democracy alive for all Americans, preventing states with a history of discrimination from targeting voters of certain backgrounds.
“Yet today, the Voting Rights Act is in peril.
“Against the backdrop of the most coordinated state-level effort to restrict the right to vote in generations, the Supreme Court has dealt a series of disastrous blows to the Voting Rights Act, gutting key provisions and rendering it all but toothless in the face of relentless, modern-day Jim Crow attacks. The gutted provisions of the Voting Rights Act can no longer protect us from those extremists who have always sought to silence us. As President Biden said, we face the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.
“Old battles have become new again, and congressional action is once again required to safeguard the sacred right to vote for generations to come. Luckily, we have a solution. My bill, H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were gutted by the Supreme Court. It would update the Voting Rights Act to combat modern-day efforts to restrict the right to vote and would once again establish federal oversight for states and jurisdictions with a recent history of voter discrimination.
“The need for federal legislation to protect the right to vote has never been so urgent. That’s why I have been hard at work drafting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with the House Judiciary Committee, the House Committee on Administration, and voting rights stakeholder groups. I will be introducing H.R. 4 in the coming weeks and once I do, Congress must use every tool at its disposal to pass it and ensure it is signed into law by President Biden.
“Our democracy is at stake. Restoring the Voting Rights Act must be our top priority in Congress. Know that I will not rest until it is done.”