In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, upholding the principle that States must be treated equally under the Constitution when it comes to new voting legislation they enact, but people, in relation to their exercising their voting rights, not so much; there’s a real need for proposals to make Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act operative again by re-writing Section 4. Here’s a modest proposal.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baynes Johnson

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baynes Johnson

I call on Congress to reconstruct Section 4 to require that all States must submit new legislation changing voting their voting rules to the Justice Department for pre-clearance. My proposal has the following great advantages.

First, it can be drafted in a single page bill that everyone can understand.

Second, it would prevent the clearly discriminatory voting legislation recently passed, or currently being proposed in many American States.

Third, it treats all the States absolutely equally, while having the likely long-term impact that equality for individuals across States in voting will be increased.

Fourth, it complies very well with the Supreme Court’s latest reasoning about Sections 4 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Fifth, it can’t pass the Senate without getting rid of the filibuster; so it places further pressure on Harry Reid to get rid of that noxious anti-democratic practice.

Sixth, this is legislation that people can really believe in and get behind; so politicians who advocate for it will be on the right side of popular sentiment and the advance of democracy.

Seventh, if the Congress sits on the proposal and fails to pass it, then this can be a compelling issue for the campaign of 2014, providing a great basis to mobilize people to come to the polls to elect people committed to saving our democracy.

Let’s get behind this, immediately, and let’s not take any hostages, or allow any compromises, Let’s get complete voting rights equality for everyone, no matter where they live in the United States.

(Cross-posted from New Economic Perspectives.)


Photo from Bill Abbott licensed under Creative Commons