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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Press Release - The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Civil Rights Groups Unified in Call for Advancing the Voting Rights Amendment Act
Letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Board of Directors to House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
May 14, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, the Board of Directors of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, comprised of 29 national organizations representing millions of constituents across the United States, sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee stressing their unified support for advancing the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) to address the grave threat to voting rights following the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The letter comes in advance of a Thursday morning press conference where diverse civil rights leaders will underscore their call for congressional action the bill.

Leaders of these prominent civil rights organizations sent the letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and to the Committee’s Ranking Member, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who is an original co-sponsor of the VRAA (HR 3899/ S 1945). House Majority and Minority Leadership were copied on the letter, which calls on the committee to hold a hearing soon on this modern, bipartisan fix to the Voting Rights Act.

The letter states: “The House Judiciary Committee cannot shrink from this historic obligation. We call on you to advance this bipartisan bill through a hearing, followed by a markup in due course. These steps will give this issue the urgent attention it deserves. Our request is simple but urgent: give this bill the benefit of a full-throated congressional debate.”

The VRAA received a bipartisan introduction in January in the House by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Rep. Conyers and other Members who support protecting voters from discrimination. However, the House Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing or a mark-up on this important legislation.

The text of the letter and a complete list of signers is linked here and pasted below. 

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Letter to Goodlatte and Conyers RE: the Voting Rights Amendment Act

Advocacy Letter - 05/14/14

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers

View the PDF of this letter here.

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John Conyers
Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and its undersigned board of directors, we urge you to take needed action to protect all voters by advancing the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (VRAA) (H.R. 3899) through the congressional process. Voters everywhere are vulnerable to discrimination, and now is the time for Congress to give this issue the attention it deserves.

Right now the right to vote for all is under grave threat. Last year, the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act that had helped states, counties, and towns to get ahead of potential discrimination. In particular, the Court struck down Section 4 of the Act, which determined which states would fall under the “preclearance” provisions. In its decision, the Court invited Congress to act, with Chief Justice Roberts writing in the majority that "Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions."

The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a modern, flexible, nationwide approach to protecting voters that embodies the spirit and letter of the Court’s decision. This bipartisan bill fills a dangerous void in current protections. Since the Court’s decision, towns and counties across the country have considered or implemented practices that would result in discrimination against certain voters. The proposed legislation would provide modern tools that ensure transparency and fairness in elections at all levels of government.

Now is the time to act. All of the undersigned organizations believe that this bill is an important step toward ensuring the right to vote is protected – freely and fairly – for all voters. We are unified in our belief that advancing this bill through the congressional process is essential to creating a modern, forward-looking Voting Rights Act for the 21st century. Congress must move the proposed legislation forward and that process begins with a hearing and markup of the bill.

Voting is the language of American democracy: if you don't vote, you don't count. This principle has been echoed time and again by resounding bipartisan majorities in Congress and by presidents from both sides of the aisle. The issue of voting rights has historically been, and will forever be, bipartisan.

The House Judiciary Committee cannot shrink from this historic obligation. We call on you to advance this bipartisan bill through a hearing, followed by a markup in due course. These steps will give this issue the urgent attention it deserves. Our request is simple but urgent: give this bill the benefit of a full-throated congressional debate.

Every day you fail to act, voters everywhere are left vulnerable to discrimination. We are counting on you to provide modern, flexible 21st century protections to every American voter – today and for generations to come.

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Board of Directors

Chair
Judith L. Lichtman
National Partnership for Women & Families

Vice Chairs
Jacqueline Johnson Pata
National Congress of American Indians

Thomas A. Saenz
Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund

Hilary Shelton
NAACP

Secretary
Barry Rand
AARP

Treasurer
Lee Saunders
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO

Policy and Enforcement Committee Chair
Michael Lieberman
Anti-Defamation League

Board
Barbara Arnwine
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Marcia D. Greenberger
National Women's Law Center

Chad Griffin
Human Rights Campaign

Linda D. Hallman
American Association of University Women

Mary Kay Henry
Service Employees International Union

Sherrilyn Ifill
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Michael B. Keegan
People for the American Way

Bob King
International Union, UAW

Elisabeth MacNamara
League of Women Voters of the United States

Marc Morial
National Urban League

Mee Moua
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Janet Murguía
National Council of La Raza

Debra Ness
National Partnership for Women & Families

Terry O’Neill
National Organization for Women

Mary Rose Oakar
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Priscilla Ouchida
Japanese American Citizens League

Mark Perriello
American Association of People with Disabilities

Dennis Van Roekel
National Education Association

Anthony Romero
American Civil Liberties Union

David Saperstein
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Shanna Smith
National Fair Housing Alliance

Richard L. Trumka
AFL-CIO

Randi Weingarten
American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO

Wade Henderson
President & CEO

cc:  The Honorable John Boehner, Speaker of the House

       The Honorable Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader

       The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip

       The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader

       The Honorable Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip

       The Honorable James Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader

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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. 

For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

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