Congressman Cohen Presides at Hearing on Ongoing Voting Discrimination

September 10, 2019
Press Release
Aim of Voting Rights hearings is to strengthen 1965 Voting Rights Act


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, today presided at a hearing examining “Evidence of Current and Ongoing Voting Discrimination.” This was the fifth hearing this year on the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder ruling and state laws weakening voting rights protections. 

In his opening statement, Chairman Cohen referred to Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which required jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to “pre-clear” changes in their voting laws with the U.S. Justice Department or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before the changes could take effect. In the Shelby County ruling, the Court threw out the formula for which jurisdictions were covered by pre-clearance, rendering Section 5 useless. 

Chairman Cohen said: 

“In the absence of an effective preclearance regime, there is almost a certainty that these discriminatory measures will undermine the voting rights of racial and language minority voters and erode our democracy…The onus, therefore, is on Congress to create a new coverage formula to restore the Voting Rights Act’s most important enforcement mechanism, its preclearance requirement.” See his opening statement here

See Congressmen Cohen questioning witnesses here

Testifying at today’s hearing were: 

  • Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP; 
  • Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; 
  • J. Christian Adams, President and general Counsel, Public Interest Legal Foundation; 
  • Dale Ho, Director, Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union; 
  • Myrna Perez, Director, Voting Rights and Elections Program, Brennan Center for Justice; 
  • Natalie A. Landreth, Senior Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund