Both the House and the Senate have announced hearings to address the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, a decision that left the fate of a key part of the law in the hands of Congress.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, and will hear from strong supporters of the law like Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. But, as MSNBC first noted, the House hearing might not be as friendly to the VRA as that of the Senate. The hearing, scheduled for Thursday, will be held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, a committee chaired by Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican.
Though it’s unclear what role Franks will have, if any, in drafting potential legislation, he was one of 33 Republicans to vote against the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA, which passed with 390 House members supporting it.
The hearings are the result of the Supreme Court’s June decision that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 4 determines the formula for establishing which parts of the country — those with a history of discrimination at the polls — must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that pre-clearance, was upheld, but without Section 4 it is inoperable.