Is the GOP Trying to Patch the Voting Rights Act?

GOP congressional leaders met on Thursday to determine what steps to take since the Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. They didn't seem interested in doing much of anything, Adam Serwer writes at MSNBC. 

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Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in 2011 (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

When Republican members of the House held their first hearing on Thursday to determine what steps to take since the Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, they didn't seem interested in doing much of anything, Adam Serwer writes at MSNBC.  It doesn't bode well, he writes, since they control the House.

If House Republicans are interested in patching the Voting Rights Act, they aren't showing it.

"Historically I fully understand why they addressed the situations they did," Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who chairs the House judiciary subcommittee that would handle new voting rights legislation, said to reporters after the hearing. "I am just of the opinion today that we should do as the court said and that is to not focus on punishing the past but on building a better future."

The House GOP held their first hearing Thursday on how to handle the Voting Rights Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling striking down Section 4 of the law. Section 4 determines which parts of the country must submit in advance their election law changes to the Justice Department, a process called "preclearance." Republicans have criticized the Section 4 formula for being based on outdated information, even though when the Republican-held Congress in 2006 reauthorized the Voting Rights Act it looked at data showing that the jurisdictions affected by the formula were more likely to engage in discriminatory election practices. Since the Supreme Court's ruling, states formerly covered by the Section 4 formula have rushed to implement new voting restrictions.

Initial attendance at the hearing trickled down to just a few legislators, mostly Democrats. When legendary civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, walked into the hearing, Franks took a moment to "express our honor that you're among us here today."

Read Adam Serwer's entire piece at MSNBC.

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