Congressman Cohen Presides at Hearing on Implications of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Potential Legislative Responses

July 16, 2021
Press Release
Supreme Court’s recent ruling permits some discrimination in voting laws

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, today presided at a hearing on the “Implications of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Potential Legislative Responses.” The July 1 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court limits the applicability of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it harder to challenge discriminatory voting laws.

In his opening statement, Chairman Cohen said in part:

“More troubling than the outcome in the individual cases at issue in Brnovich was the reasoning underlying it and its potential impact in future cases alleging vote denial claims under Section 2.

“In a brazen opinion, the Court in Brnovich created out of thin air five ‘guideposts’ that lower courts are to follow in assessing vote denial claims under Section 2. These guideposts are found nowhere in the VRA, directly contradict Section 2’s purpose, and potentially narrow its scope. As Justice Kagan wrote in dissent, the Court was operating in a ‘law-free zone.’

“Depending on how lower courts interpret and apply these “guideposts,” any one of them can become a giant loophole for states and localities to discriminate against minority citizens. Taken together, they can present a formidable obstacle for future Section 2 plaintiffs alleging vote denial claims.”

See the entire opening statement here.
See Chairman Cohen’s questioning of expert witnesses here.

Witnesses at today’s hearing were:

• Mr. Sean Morales-Doyle
Acting Director, Voting Rights & Elections, Democracy, Brennan Center for Justice
• Mr. Robert D. Popper
Senior Attorney, Judicial Watch
• Mr. Ezra Rosenberg
Co-Director, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
• Mr. Nicholas Stephanopoulos
Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School