Time for a Hearing on the Voting Rights Amendment Act

The closer we get to election season, the more important the swift passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act becomes.. As I’ve writtenbefore, the Voting Rights Amendment Act is a bipartisan response to the Supreme Court’s calamitous decision in Shelby v. Holder last year, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The right to vote is fundamental to American democracy and Jewish tradition teaches us that the selection of leaders is not a privilege but a collective responsibility. Hillel taught, “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot 2:4) and Rabbi Yitzchak taught that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). As Jews who cherish equality, we must strongly support legislation that protects the rights of all citizens to be free of discrimination in their efforts to exercise the right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act protected that key right for half a century, but because of the Supreme Court’s decision last year, the upcoming 2014 elections could be the first in fifty years in which voters in many states are left unprotected from potential discrimination.

That is why it is so important for Congress to take action on the Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would ensure that voters in all states are protected going forward. Given the timeline of Congressional recesses and what needs to happen in Congress in advance of the elections in November, the House Judiciary Committee must hold a hearing on the bill right away. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has the potential to call the hearing, but has yet to do so. But all members of Congress are important in this fight, as they can increase the pressure on Chairman Goodlatte to hold a hearing and mark up of the bill—crucial first steps towards passage.

Urge your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (S. 1945/ H.R. 3899) today!

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Charlie Arnowitz

About Charlie Arnowitz

Charlie Arnowitz is a Legislative Assistant at the RAC, responsible for civil rights, immigration, and healthcare issues. He is a native of Highland Park, IL and a 2013 graduate of Vermont's Middlebury College.

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