Senate to Hear Testimony on Voting Rights Act

Working to update following recent Supreme Court decision


The Senate will begin an attempt to update the Voting Rights Act by hearing testimony next week from a civil rights icon and a key steward of the Act in the past.

Sen. Pat Leahy's Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on July 17 from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who led a 1965 peace March in Selma, Ala., and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who chaired the House Judiciary Committee in 2006 when Congress last reauthorized the Voting Rights Act by overwhelming votes in both chambers. That effort seven years ago was precipitated by about 20 hearings, according to Leahy's office.

The Supreme Court struck down a key component of the VRA in June, ruling that the formula's used to determine which jurisdictions must federally clear their election plans was outdated. The decision ended for now the requirement that portions of more than a dozen states get clearance from the Justice Department or the courts for changes to voting laws.