Jun 26, 2014
On a clear but balmy afternoon, a coalition of labor, civil and human rights groups held a rally on the U.S. Capitol grounds this week to urge the House of Representatives to follow the Senate's example and hold its own hearings on the Voting Rights Amendment Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court, a year ago, gutted the Voting Rights Act and a key enforcement provision. Hundreds of civil rights, labor and good government activists rallied on Capitol Hill to restore protections for the right to vote.
CWA and other members of the coalition have been pushing for the proposed amendment to begin to repair the damage done to the seminal American civil rights law when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act a year ago, striking down a key enforcement provision of the law.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recalled a coalition of elected leaders gathering on the steps of the Capitol to urge the court to do the right thing.
"They didn't, but we now have a chance to do so," Pelosi said. "This is as fundamental and as strong as our democracy. We are on sacred ground. There's nothing more fundamental than respecting every person's right to vote and to have that vote counted."
But Pelosi told the rally crowd that the bill faces an uphill task getting a hearing in the House because Republicans, who have mounted intense nationwide efforts to reduce the number of votes by people of color, lead the House and do not want a law that would blunt their efforts to deny people the right to vote.
"We have a bi-partisan bill, it doesn't do everything. It isn't the bill we would have written in the majority, but it does correct the decision of the court. We are calling upon the Speaker of the House to give us our vote on this bill so that we can protect the votes of millions of people in our country," Pelosi said.
Other groups that provided testimonies at the Senate hearing and participated in the rally included: People for the American Way; the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; the American Civil Liberties Union; Common Cause; and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
CWAers call on Congress to pass a proposed Voting Rights Amendment Act.
Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who was master of ceremony for the rally, said as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, states and localities have busied themselves changing election laws to deny people the right to vote based solely on the color of their skin or the language they speak.
"The right to vote in our nation is in grave danger and you are here because you recognize that threat to American democracy and you are here to help us all amplify our voices so that members of the House of Representatives, the House leadership most especially, hears about the importance of providing a hearing for this bill and a markup so we can move this thing forward," Henderson said.