(TheRedWire.com) – Some say that politics is the art of the possible. If that’s true, where does that leave Democrats who appear to despise common-sense election reforms passed by multiple GOP-led states? In April, Georgia passed an election reform bill Republicans tout for making it easier to cast a ballot while also protecting the integrity of elections. The Peach State wasn’t alone. Arizona and Texas also passed election reform laws Democrats opposed but couldn’t stop.
House Democrats responded by passing HR1, also known as the “For the People Act.” It was a federal hijacking of elections. If enacted, the legislation would have sidelined state election laws altogether. However, pesky Senate filibuster rules got in the way and killed the bill in the upper chamber. Now, Democrats are at it again. This time, they’re reviving a piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 the US Supreme Court already ruled unconstitutional.
House Democrats Won’t Stop Attempts to Federalize Elections
House Democrats are preparing to pass HR4, known as the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In many ways, this bill is more dangerous than HR1. For starters, its principle design is to empower the Department of Justice (DOJ) and partisan activist groups to harass states by making it easier to challenge voting laws in court. In most instances, lawsuits would be a nuisance to election authorities and the courts. In addition, activists could flood the courts to slow down election reform laws or temporarily sideline them for years.
Additionally, the law would also run contrary to a 2013 Supreme Court decision. The Civil Rights Act required states with racial discrimination histories to submit changes to elections to the federal government for approval through a complex formula known as preclearance requirements. In Shelby County v. Holder, the nation’s highest court ruled preclearance requirements were unconstitutional.
How does HR4 contradict the Supreme Court? The legislative proposal not only expands the preclearance requirement struck down by the High Court but also adds new practice-based preclearance requirements. If passed, the law would affect every voting jurisdiction in the United States.
Additionally, the proposal would undermine Brnovich v. DNC. The Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that Arizona election reform laws were Constitutional, and so long as voters had a reasonable opportunity to vote, the regulations would stand.
Finally, HR4 would allow judges to stop voting law reforms unilaterally while courts hear cases. In essence, the law would allow a partisan administration to freeze a state’s voting rule change for years, if not a decade, until the appeals process is exhausted.
The Senate Stands in the Way
While Democrats in the runaway House can pass whatever they want, the uphill climb in the Senate is extremely steep. First, if one Democrat stands against the bill, it’s dead. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) shot down HR1 and is likely to do so again with HR4. Second, the bill must also overcome a Republican filibuster. It needs 10 GOP Senators to pass, and not one supports federalizing elections in any capacity.
So, the likelihood of Democrats fulfilling their apparent dream of stripping the states of election laws is slim to none.
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