Durbin, Leahy, Schumer, Blumenthal Introduce John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the introduction of the John R. Lewis Voting Advancement Act, legislation that would update and restore critical safeguards of the original Voting Rights Act.  Durbin is co-leading the introduction of this legislation today along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  Tomorrow, Durbin will chair a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “Protecting a Precious, Almost Sacred Right: The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Shelby County decision in 2013 – which crippled the federal government’s ability under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent discriminatory changes to voting laws and procedures – states across the country have unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised tens of thousands of American voters.  The Supreme Court’s recent Brnovich decision delivered yet another blow to the Voting Rights Act, by making it significantly harder for plaintiffs to win lawsuits under the landmark law against discriminatory voting laws or procedures.

“Time and again in history, we’ve asked men and women to stand and risk their lives, in fact give their lives, for the most fundamental premise of our democracy, the right to vote.  They have fought, they have bled, they have died for that right.  And now it is under attack again,” Durbin said.  “Since the start of 2021, Republican legislators throughout the country have introduced over 425 pieces of legislation with provisions to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.  Thirty-three of these laws were actually enacted in 19 states… each of these proposals is designed to achieve the same outcome—create barriers for Americans when it comes to the ballot box.”

Durbin continued, “At a moment when lawmakers across the country are rallying around the ‘Big Lie’ to strip away our constitutional rights, we in the Senate must have the courage to step up and protect those rights… We can begin by reinvigorating one of the most important pieces of legislation in modern American history, the Voting Rights Act of 1965… Over the past several years, there has been a sustained effort to chip away at the protections guaranteed to every American under that Voting Rights Act… That’s why we’ve joined together today to introduce a bill that would not only restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act, but strengthen it… It’s called the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

Durbin concluded, “In our nation, there’s no freedom more fundamental than the right to vote.  And the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will help ensure every American can exercise that right.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin, Leahy, Schumer, and Blumenthal are joined by 45 Senate cosponsors: Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Maize Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is endorsed by the following leading civil rights organizations: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.

A section-by-section analysis of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.