Robert Knight

As the nation gears up for crucial mid-term congressional elections in November, another “reform” proposal has emerged, with lawmakers hearing the predictable siren song of “go along, or be accused of racism.”

That’s a scary threat when a charge of racial bigotry – real or imagined – has enormous power.

In a hothouse liberal media culture, Democrats have managed to persuade an ordinarily sensible Republican, Wisconsin’s Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, to take leave of his senses and sponsor this bad legislation.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S. 1945) was introduced in January as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder on June 25, 2013 invalidating one part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Liberals are pressuring congressional leaders of both parties to enact this legislative “fix.” On June 4, more than 80 liberal religious groups sent a letter to Congress urging passage.

The original law required the U.S. Justice Department or a D.C.-based federal court panel to pre-clear any voting law changes in nine mostly Southern states and local jurisdictions in six others. Enacted with huge majorities in both houses of Congress, the statute eliminated Jim Crow laws that had discriminated against blacks since the days of Reconstruction following the Civil War. The law was a crucial, effective component of the civil rights campaign to end racial discrimination.

In recent years, however, evidence has piled up that Section 5 is being abused by a politicized Justice Department. The Supreme Court rightly noted that Section 4, which justified and required unequal treatment of some states under Section 5, could no longer pass Constitutional muster because it relied on nearly 50-year old obsolete data.

In Georgia, for instance, under one of the most restrictive photo ID laws in the nation, 50.4 percent of registered black Georgians voted in 2010, compared to only 42.9 percent in 2006, as noted by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky in their book Who’s Counting? And in 2008, with Barack Obama on the ballot, the number of black Georgians voting in the Democratic primary doubled from 2004.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.