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Strangling of John Lewis Voting Rights Act could be death blow for democracy

These are the only states that would be policed under the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the requirement to “pre-clear” new, racially biased, voting procedures, such as limitations on early voting:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Don’t get me wrong, the strangling of the John Lewis Act by filibuster, unlike the overhyped For the People Act, could be the death blow to a democratically elected Congress.

In 2013, Justice Kennedy said the Voting Rights Act would have been constitutional if it didn’t target specific states, a suggestion from New York City which was then under pre-clearance review.

While the new list is a rogues gallery of bad actors, there are real dangers in Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida, not on the list. The Democratic Party has to grasp that vote suppression is serious in almost every state. Ironically, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema may be the victim of her own obstructionism.

Even with its limitations, the John Lewis Act would’ve been a very powerful weapon.

For example, the act would absolutely have prevented Cobb County, Georgia, from closing six of 11 early voting stations, all six in African-American neighborhoods.

So what now? While Attorney General Merrick Garland his filed suits against parts of Georgia’s new Jim Crow SB 202, action so far is slow, limited, and scatter shot.

One big problem: President Biden said, on CNN, he wouldn’t use his political clout to end the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation:

“Here’s the deal: If, in fact, I get myself into, at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, on the foreign policy side of the equation.”

But, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who trade democracy for a budget boost deserve neither. Bluntly, Joe, if you don’t protect voters in Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, you lose Congress. Then you will spend your last two years in office watching your progressive goals drowned like unwanted kittens.

For more on this, and other election crimes, listen to this week’s FlashPoints Election Crimes Bulletin on our SoundCloud or via the player below.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

Palast is currently working on a new documentary Long Knife, exposing the Koch Brothers' theft of Osage oil, to be released in 2024.

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